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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When does the desire to win at all costs go away for someone who is used to getting his way?

I love this little blog of mine. I really do. I began this blog when I met my husband, Brandon. For the first time I saw someone who loved me for me and the rush of emotions were dancing in me like a 4 year old at her first dance recital. Ups and downs and fears and confusion ran through me and I needed a place to process all I was feeling.

I’ve come to this blog to write. For me. To open my heart and soul by clicking the keys of a keyboard and pouring my fear, hurt, love and growth onto the pages of this blog. It’s been healing for me. It’s been a listening friend in the dark of night when I had no one to talk to. It’s been a place where kind and loving people have shared their stories and we have learned about the similarities between their paths and mine.

This little blog is now at the center of a court battle, because someone doesn’t like what I write about. Someone doesn’t like that after all of these years I’ve finally found my voice. And that voice is strong. I didn’t have a voice for so, so long, and now I do. He can’t shame me or scare me into my corner where I did not grow or shine or heal. He can’t raise his voice and make the air around me dense and heavy with his glares. He can’t control me anymore. And it bothers him.

I am in love with myself now. Truly and deeply. I don’t need the approval of anyone. I write the truth and I write from my soul and my heart is open. Because he was part of my life for so many years, we are intertwined. His story is part of mine, but it’s not all of my story. I pray he heals and can let me go, but this court battle tells me he cannot.

I cannot say goodbye to my voice, as much as he’s trying to silence it. I won’t do it. The judge may tell me to let this blog go, and if she does, I will. But I will never be silenced again. Because living in the light and in the truth is where love helps you grow.

Keep writing. I will. Keep healing. I am. The support we all feel through sharing our words is what has helped me get this far. And I’m so thankful you’ve helped me find my voice.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned through my life, it’s that you can’t have everyone like who you are. It’s impossible. If you think you can spin and twist and turn opinions about you into sugar and kisses all the time, well, you’re just plain wrong. And you’re probably very unhappy.

How rude you must think I am.

Tippy-toeing around to keep someone happy or to keep them from being angry with you is a waste of time, a waste of energy, and most of all, a waste of the real you.

Morphing myself into the “yes dear” wife or the “perfect daughter” made for an exhausting existence. From being sure vacuum lines remained in the living room carpet from Saturday to Saturday, to hiding from all of my LDS friends the fact that my parents drank and smoked for fear of being judged and left-out, to tolerating my husband ‘dating’ another woman for months as our marriage died on the vine (while he told me the whole time he loved me but wasn’t “in love with me” and needed time to figure things out),” I’ve smiled and spin-doctored my life for more years than some of you have been alive.

When you are living true to you, let’s face it, you are probably gonna piss some people off–especially if those people aren’t used to you sticking up for yourself or showing strength. When your regular routine is to let people walk all over you or settle or tolerate mistreatment, loved ones don’t like it when you change the rules of the game.

Standing up for yourself takes courage. Always. But especially if you’ve lived with a manipulator. If you are in a relationship and you want to start standing up for yourself, look at the patterns. Do they get angry to get you to “give in” to their ideas or wants? Do they pout and act helpless so you’ll “make them happy” or dote on them? That’s not a healthy relationship your in. That’s manipulation.

Below is a list of basic human rights, taken from psychologytoday.com. I want you to keep this list in mind as you move through the process of finding the strength in yourself again. Have a look, put the list in your phone, and when you start to feel small or guilty because you aren’t being a “good daughter/son” or “good wife/husband,” remind yourself you deserve these things.

Standing up for yourself isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t disrespectful. And it certainly isn’t wrong. You may lose people from your life if you begin to grow and get stronger, but really, you can’t make everyone happy.

  • You have the right to be treated with respect.
  • You have the right to express your feelings, opinions and wants.
  • You have the right to set your own priorities.
  • You have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty.
  • You have the right to get what you pay for.
  • You have the right to have opinions different than others.
  • You have the right to take care of and protect yourself from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally.
  • You have the right to create your own happy and healthy life.

Good luck on your journey back to you. It’s a beautiful story you are writing for yourself.

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There was a time in my life where the only purpose I knew was keeping my family happy. The years and years of being a “yes girl” added up to one big blur of a human being who oftentimes gave up her own happiness so as not to rock the boat.

Passions within me died. Hobbies forgotten. I didn’t even recognize my own voice, because I heard my mother’s or husband’s voice in my head and regurgitated their opinions and ideas. That is not living with a purpose, whatsoever.

Writing here is my voice. It is my truth. The truth that I never shared before for fear of being yelled at or ignored. Or, heaven forbid, disappointing someone.

My purpose is living my story. And I choose to share that story. That story involves being abused, being manipulated, feeling guilty all the time, and one day learning that all of those things lead to me being strong, confident, and finding myself. The result? I have deeper friendships, an authentic relationship, and I have pride in who I am and own my journey.

I’ve read so many stories of people’s struggles, healing and faith. Writing the TRUTH about your life is a scary thing. To put it down on paper or in an online form makes it real. No one knew that as a child I was mistreated by someone and it changed me forever. They only saw me being a good student and a busy pre-teen. I stayed quiet until I found my voice at 40.

My family had no idea of some of the struggles I had with my first husband, because I kept them secret. I wanted to protect him and didn’t want people knowing he could sometimes say mean things, yell, or be so controlling and jealous that I changed who I was.

But ya know what? They saw the small signs. They could tell I had changed. My older brother saw me at my first Thanksgiving after the divorce and I was playing and giggling loudly with the kids and he said to me, “Finally. You’re back. After 20 years!” That hit hard on me. Had I really changed that much?

I have no need to hide anything anymore. I live my life with purpose. I share this story so others learn that through pain you can find the other side. You can learn so much about yourself and the people in your life when you live with purpose.

Take it from a woman who was afraid to speak with her own voice. You must learn to stand up for yourself. You must find who you are inside and share the real you. When you do that, and share your light, genuine people find you. Opportunities find you. The world opens up to you because you live your purpose.

Keep sharing your story. Don’t be afraid. It’s the first step to owning the truth and being happy.

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No more settling.

The day that little light bulb goes off in your brain, and the fog lifts, I promise you there will be no turning back.

Knowing what you want and asking for it is not wanting “perfect” or being selfish. It’s asking for what you need so you can be happy, grow, live the life you’re meant to live. Conforming and settling isn’t a solution. And by damn, it certainly isn’t the road to happiness.

You can’t hide who you are to protect someone else just to make them happy. The real you will either die inside, (a slow, dark, quiet death) or you will have feelings and emotions bubble inside of you and you eventually blow.

Stop being afraid to be better. Stop being afraid to want more. You need to start with small baby steps for you.

You only have one life. You only have this day once. This one day is yours to make it as incredible and authentic and amazing as you can. Rise to your potential and don’t settle for anything less.

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I’m a little bit behind when it comes to becoming addicted to the popular TV series out there. Last year, we registered for Amazon Prime (hello, this is truly a Godsend to a working mother of 8!). Along with subscribing to auto-deliveries of toilet paper, toothbrushes and deodorant, we get Amazon Video–heavenly when nothing good is on TV. After subscribing, I quickly saw what all of the hype was with Downton Abbey (only 4 years late). Once I devoured the series in a few months, I was on the lookout for another fun series to watch while I was on the treadmill.

As I was sweating away, staring out the window at the gym, I happened upon Big Love. I’m a gal who is born and raised in Utah, and although I’m not a “typical” Utah girl, this series seemed intriguing to me. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the whole polygamy thing (I am sooooo not into sharing), but I was interested in watching the series because of the slight mentions about the Mormon church. So I tried watching the first episode. Aside from the it-really-doesn’t-need-to-be-in-there-so-much sex scene, the show is quite addictive.

The relationships between the sister-wives is intriguing to me. I could never share my husband with someone, but they can. (Let’s face it, the drama is too funny and it’s what keeps us coming back for more)

After being a few episodes in, Brandon’s kids came over for the weekend (as they do every other week). I was playing with our 3 year old and he was telling me about his mom and how they were going to maybe get a new house soon. I was excited for them. What a good feeling that must be for both him and her. “That will be so great!” I exclaimed.

I’m a firm believer that their moms are their moms, and I could never replace them in any way. But I’m also a firm believer that we have a connection that other people don’t. In a way (okay, maybe a strange, far-off way) I’m somewhat married to his exes as well. I listen to their children talk about their lives with their mom’s. I see them at events and when we transition from Mom-time to Dad-time. We are connected this way, and will be for the rest of our lives. Weddings, babies, graduations…we have a lot of events in our futures.

When I meet our 3 year old’s mom on Saturdays, it’s friendly and nice. I always tell him, “Say love you mom and see you Sunday.” Then I turn to her and tell her, “Have a good day at work.” I need to be supportive of her. It’s what’s best for our son. Yes, our son. She’s raising my son, and he loves her as much as he loves me.

As a single mom, I know how hard it is day-in and day-out. I know she tries her best. And I know she trusts me with our son. One day, out of the blue, she sent me a text that said “I was talking to {son} today and he brought you up. I just want to tell you I’m grateful for your help in raising him.” I melted. She didn’t have to do that. She could be bitter and hate me and talk badly to our son about me and turn him against me. But she doesn’t. We’ve both chosen the high road. And he’s better off because we have.

When I married Brandon, the mother of Brandon’s 3 older children wrote on my daughter’s Instagram photo of the wedding ‘Beautiful dress, Lori. Congratulations to you two.’ After being divorced from Brandon for over 10 years, she knows that welcoming a new mother into her kids life takes courage and love.

When my ex married his new wife, I couldn’t have been happier. She’s been nice and accepting of my kids. She’s spoken to me when my ex won’t. She’s raising my children, too. With every part of me, I’m thankful for the love she shows to them. We, too, have a connection that will last forever–our kids. It isn’t easy sharing your kids and having time away from them, but this woman is the best woman my ex could have ever chosen.

All of these women, are in a way, my sister-wives. No, I don’t share a husband with them, but I do share their/our children. I’m lucky. Each of these women love openly, like I do. Each one works hard for their kids and each one is a believer in raising good children.

If I have to be ‘married’ to multiple people, I guess this is how it’s done.

*image HBO

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write your story about divorce and new beginnings

Why do I write?

Why do I share my struggles, lessons, good days and bad days? Why do I write my story? I write because it’s therapeutic. I write because it’s healing for me. I write because giving myself permission to be vulnerable enough to record the details about deep, meaningful, impactful, things in my life–both good and bad–has helped me grow as a mother, wife, friend, and most importantly as a woman.

There are still so many things to write about that I haven’t had the courage to record yet, but I know I’ll get there. In time. Healing is a process, and it moves through us like a quiet stream some days and other days it’s like a raging river.

Through my journey I’ve realized that I lived a life trying to be perfect on the outside. Not because I cared about what people would think, but because I was raised to be tough, hard working and smart. What girl out there could be all those things while sharing the “bad” or “not-so-perfect” parts of her life?

I never talked about things like my breakup with my high school boyfriend and the way it shattered me at 17. Or that I went to church every Sunday smelling like smoke because of my parents and how I felt I had to pretend I fit in around my uber-Mormon community for fear of further judgement. I just wanted to put my head down and keep moving forward.

Just like the Pink Floyd song states, I had become “comfortably numb.”

The numbness continued in my early adult years and throughout my first marriage. Think about others, don’t rock the boat, and don’t ask for anything. That was the woman I had become. In a way, a Stepford wife.

When you stop being a Stepford wife (or daughter or friend), people don’t like it. And ya know, that’s perfectly okay. They don’t have to approve or like you or what you have to say. It’s not your job to please everyone. It’s not your job to paste on a smile and cover for someone when they’re treating you like shit. And it’s certainly not your job to always make things better and smooth the waters for everyone because that’s what you’ve always done.

Everyone has a story to tell. Everyone is cracked in some way or another. Write your story. Keep a journal or blog or write your epiphanies on a post-it note and put it on your mirror so you see it every day. Those lessons of growth and love are glimpses of light and the life you are meant to live.

What is your story? What lead you to the place you are right now? Tell the truth. Own it. Embrace each event that lead you to the you you are right now. I promise that your world will open up once you give yourself wings.

If you’re feeling brave, leave a comment or link me to your story below. I’d love to learn from each of you and continue my journey by following along with yours.

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Divorce is messy. It’s ugly, damaging and frightening all at the same time.

It’s painful to lose a marriage, harder on your children than the meanest, cruelest bully at school and the paperwork and logistical issues will drown you. I would never wish divorce on my worst enemy. But sometimes, divorce is necessary, and it’s worth it.

Last night, Brandon and me and 2 of my kids watched the movie This is Where I Leave You staring Tina Fey and Justin Bateman. Tina and Justin are siblings in the movie, and one part of the movie stopped me in my tracks. Judd (Justin) walked in on his wife having sex with his boss (this part didn’t stop me in my tracks, but boy I wanted him to throw the cake in her face and kick her ass out of the house!) and he was talking with his sister (Tina) about getting divorced.

Wendy (Tina), insisted he wouldn’t get divorced. When Judd asked why she thought that, she told him, “Starting over is complicated and you don’t do complicated, Judd. You never have.”

She told him about how he planned his life out at 12 years old and now had the “perfect apartment” and “perfect wife” and he got everything he wanted. She knew he wouldn’t leave.

Wow.

That was how I used to live.

When things in my first marriage started crumbling, I tried everything I could to ignore them. The disconnection of 2 people. The times I caught him on the internet late at night. The constant time he spent on his phone which was on lock-down or kept in his car or tucked under his leg in bed. The lunchtime workouts when he wasn’t working out at all.

Then I tried fixing things. Sending more texts and making extra time. Buying a treadmill so he could workout at home. Paying more attention to him because he said I didn’t but the “others” did.

I look back now, and I realize I did most of this because I was afraid to leave. Because I didn’t want to upset my “perfect” life. Because if I left, my life would then become complicated.

Yes, I loved him and wanted to save my marriage. But only because of our history and our kids and the comfort we had together. I was willing to overlook all of the mistakes he made with the other women to save my “perfect” life.

That “perfect” was an image I created in my head as a teenager. My life was far from perfect. My husband didn’t treat me like a queen. He didn’t give as much love as I gave to him. He didn’t know my fears or dreams or support me in things I dreamed about or wanted to do. He was indifferent.

Having a spouse who is indifferent towards you is not something a “perfect” life is made of.

Like Judd in the movie, I decided I was willing to try difficult and complicated if it meant finding true happiness. I threw away nearly 20 years and walked away from all of it. I deserved better.

The ride through and after divorce isn’t easy. There are days filled with heartbreak, and those days pop up out of the blue. I see the divorce’s negative affect on my kids every day. But I also see the positive affects of the divorce on my kids every day, too.

I hope this complicated, messy life teaches my kids to be brave and stand up for what they deserve. I hope they see that I respected myself enough to walk away from comfortable and I dared reach for the dream of authenticity, honesty, and love. My life is different now. It’s real. It’s honest. It’s goofy and fun. And I know they see the happiness on my face.

If you’re scared to move your life in a “complicated” direction, just stop and think for a moment. Sometimes complicated is exactly what you need.

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