Archive for ‘February, 2014’

Live-Everyday

You live everyday.

THAT.IS.POWERFUL.

Having come from the school of you’ve only got one shot, so do it right the first time, this quote means so much to me. There’s so much behind it and the words dig deep inside of me. Stop and think about the quote for just a minute. Let it resonate with you.

What do you hear this quote saying to you? To me, it screams:

  • Live every day to its fullest
  • Stop “keeping score” because tomorrow it all starts over
  • Don’t go to bed regretting all you did/didn’t do that day, because you get another chance tomorrow
  • Stop looking at your mistakes as the end of your “life” in your head

After ending a marriage of 17 years and ending up alone with 4 children, I wondered, “Why me?” Shame on yous ran through my head more often than not. Why couldn’t I fix this? Divorce handed me an ugly pill. Then came the lawyer bills, dating fails, fights with my ex, etc. It’s like failure lined up at my door and decided to introduce itself to me over and over. Well, “failure” is what I liked to call it.

After all, we learned that if you don’t do it right, it’s wrong. Right?!

Hell no! Stop thinking like that!

What if Henry Ford gave up trying to create the first automobile when the Model A kept having overheating problems? He never would have made it to the Model T! And what if Robert Downey Jr. completely threw his career away after his arrests for being under the influence of drugs throughout the late 1990s? His career highlights have almost all come AFTER the low point in his career. (And what a shame it would be if we didn’t have this beautiful face to look at on the big screen–just a little eye candy, there!)

RDJ_webLive every day. LIVE.

Don’t throw it all away because that week/month/marriage didn’t end up like you had imagined it would look.

Don’t judge yourself on what you have or haven’t done.

Once I stopped beating myself up over the “mistakes” in my life that “messed up my plan” and embraced every day as it came, my life became so much more than I originally wanted. My new marriage is much better than the “dream” in my head from 20’s. The real way I parent my children today speaks volumes over my trying to be the “perfect mom” of their childhoods. It’s because I embrace every day.

Live life. MAKE things happen. Don’t wait. Don’t become a victim of your mistakes. And definitely don’t throw in the towel because you didn’t live it right the first time or it didn’t come out like you had planed. You’re too strong for that.

Remember, tomorrow is a new day to start living all over again.

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Vulnerable

The thought of being vulnerable to me used to be something that was such a far off idea–I don’t even think the word was present in my vocabulary.  Being tough and a “winner” was who I grew up to be–always wanting to be the best. I didn’t speak of my weaknesses, nor did I admit them. And after being with a man who showed me his “true” self on our honeymoon by screaming and yelling at me over the smallest thing (don’t ask), I don’t think I was ever completely open and vulnerable with him.

How sad is that? Isn’t that was marriage is about?

Anyways, I’ve since embraced showing my imperfections by learning to let my guard down. I’m not that good at it yet, but I am trying. Some of it comes in the form of perfecting the apology or by admitting when I need help. All of it is very foreign to me, so it’s like entering school all over again and learning to breathe.

On the long ride south to my daughter’s tournament out of town this weekend, I began listening to Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. I’m a huge fan of Brené’s work, and I credit her words for helping me overcome some of the issues I’ve carried throughout my life. I felt very in-tune with the words as I listened, and I came to a better understanding why I have the personality that would stay with a man who gave me no love: Simply put, I never stood up and said, “I deserve to be loved as myself for who I am. I don’t have to be perfect to deserve love.” And on the flip side to that, he could never show me his true self for fear of being discovered that he, too, wasn’t perfect.

As Brandon and I go through the final steps of selling my house and prepare to move into our new home together, I find myself flooded with emotions. These emotions weren’t making much sense to me, but I could feel the uprising within me and had to spend some time sorting through things. Inside my mind, I felt as though I was wading through a foggy swamp trying to establish which direction I was going, where my next step should be, and trying to gain footing that felt comfortable and stable. All of this confusion is, I’m sure, because of the move and the instability in my life right now as we try to get financing in line, sell my home, and begin anew.

Included in all of this emotion was a good chunk of fear. A fear of selling and leaving my home, my stability after my divorce (my safe place), and moving forward with my new husband on our new path. A fear of rolling all of my equity into this new home and actually having to depend on this man to be present–to make the mortgage payments with me. A fear of moving the final step away from “my” life into “our” life. He is the first man I’ve had to depend on since my ex husband, and taking that final step is a scary thing.

As I pondered my feelings (by spending some time alone and doing the “work” to discover all that was bothering me), I uncovered the ugliest fear of all–a fear that this new path will bring stress, misery, arguments and perhaps infidelity into my fairly-close-to-blissful marriage. After all, that’s what happened in my first marriage. Now, to say that out loud (or type it in black-and-white) is absolutely absurd! People who cheat choose to do so because they can. They choose it. They don’t all cheat because of life and stress and mortgages. But my feelings were real. My ex husband began relationships with women other than his wife soon after we finally bought the “home of our dreams”. The stresses of life had burdened him, he had began to fall into a routine of work/alone time/TV and it was obviously he was escaping. He chose to reach out to other women. He would rather do that than admit his fear and frustration to his wife of 17 years.

Last night, I needed to have a heart-to-heart with my husband. I had to recognize my fear, validate it on my own, and I had to open up myself to exposing the deepest, darkest places in my heart and my head and share all of these things with him. And as a tough girl who was raised to “kick dirt on it” and “suck it up”, that was an extremely scary thing. (I’ve been practicing vulnerability all along in our relationship as a way to heal and let myself been seen, but for some reason, last night was very real and very scary.)

I’m learning so many things about being truly vulnerable. To be as though you’re standing there naked, alone, with all of your ugly skeletons in your closet and messy baggage from your past and telling the person you love, “Look, this is me, and I need you to love me.” is what it’s all about. While vulnerability is a terrifying thing, because you expose your weaknesses and fears and imperfections, you can also gain so much from it. As Brené shares, “we associate vulnerability with emotions we want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. Yet we too often lose sight of the fact that vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.”

Brandon was quiet as I spoke to him about the hurt from my past and my fears about the future. Some of this isn’t new to him. He held me in his arms and just listened. I needed to be heard and hugged. Sometimes just that little bit of reassurance makes things seem so much better. Everything I shared didn’t mean I think he’s a cheater. It didn’t mean I didn’t want to move. It didn’t mean I compare him to my ex husband. It meant that I have been affected by my past–it meant I needed him to love me with all of my skeletons and messy baggage.

I dared to ask the questions I needed answers to and told him about my shattered feelings I dared not show to anyone. Would he have the guts to tell me if he were ever unhappy in our marriage? Or would he just leave? I explained to him how degrading and humiliating it felt to feel “thrown away” and disregarded after my first marriage. It was such a blow to my confidence. I cried as he hugged me–some of the tears from fear, some from gratitude of being loved so deeply, and some of it from relief of carrying this “burden” of being scared to depend on anyone ever again. I also worried what he was thinking. Will he think I’m crazy? Will he think I’m being a baby?

The most interesting thing about being vulnerable and being OKAY with it is hearing those fears in your head and not giving them any weight or credit to allow them to grow larger. It doesn’t matter what Brandon thinks about me and my fears or about all of my ugly scars from my past. He’s chosen to love me for me. He’s chosen to stand by my side and shoulder the pain and fear right along with me. He may not understand it, but he will carry it with me because he has seen the deepest most vulnerable part of me and loves me all the more because of it. And for that, I’m blessed.

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Bball

Yesterday, my daughter’s junior high basketball team played in the semi-finals against a local, rival school. It’s a rivalry that’s gone back many years now. Everyone was anxious as they entered the gym: energy was palpable, intensity was high, passion and tensions rose to the surface quickly as the game progressed. Each team had their crowd behind them–yelling, cheering, criticizing the other team as loudly as they could. There was one point when the opposing team’s crowd would chant, “Oink! Oink! Oink!” whenever our starting guard would have possession of the ball.

By half-time, our team was down by 10. That spread is quite large, seeing that in junior high, scores often land somewhere between 40-50 points total for each team per game. Our girls kept trying, kept shooting, kept playing physical and held their own. There were body-checks exchanged, slaps that went uncalled (on both sides), and the heckling from the crowd continued, “Our team’s better! Our team’s better!”

It was hard to watch the girls slowly deflate and question their abilities. You could see fear would sometimes creep into the game a bit and they became timid. By the end of the game, the desperation set in and they tried shooting 3 point shots as a last-ditch attempt to catch up. Unfortunately, the attempts didn’t work, and they lost their final game.

The process of going through a divorce is much like playing an intense game against a rival; you’re familiar with the opponent and the way they play. Each side is passionate about being “better”, and they head into mediation with demands in place, lines drawn in the sand, and each party stands their ground because they want to “win”. There are hecklers on both sides–some very verbal about their feelings, other’s not so much. And all the while, both sides are trying to continue the raising of their kids, paying of their bills, and running the “plays” of life.

The “game” continues and each side takes their turn on offense and defense, and as time goes on, everyone gets comfortable in the rhythm of the game. The ball goes back and forth and sometimes the ex husband takes a “shot” and sometimes it’s you.

But ya know what? Divorce isn’t a game. There is no winner and no loser. In fact, everyone ends up a loser. A family is broken, children are spread thin and caught in the middle, bills pile up for lawyers who rake in tons of cash to divide everyone and their assets, and the post-marriage couple is left trying to piece together a new financial life, a new future, and possibly a new love life.

The heckling hurts. It hurts both teams AND their children. The “shots” don’t serve any purpose other than to “score” one point over the other person. And really, how is that a “win”? It just causes defense to get stronger, which makes offense have to get stronger, then each team worries about losing possession of the “ball” and everyone acts panicked.

Basketball is a game. It has a beginning and an ending. It’s 32 minutes of intense play, then it’s over. Divorce and co-parenting never have an ending. There is no winner, there is no loser. No one keeps score, and no one is the “champion”. It’s a constant state of being.

Imagine if basketball were a process where everyone was told, “We don’t keep score. Everyone in the stands is cheering for both teams to do well, so give it all you got. Play hard, do your best, and celebrate the good plays that everyone makes.” How do you think that game might look?

For some reason, people love competition. They feed off of the heckling and finger-pointing. They get a charge when someone gets “scored on”. And sometimes, I think the spectators care more about the outcome and “being right” than the players who are out on the floor working hard. Now, don’t get me wrong, in sports I love competition. I love giving it my all and I enjoy winning. But I also don’t bash people or talk down to them or disrespect them. I play hard and try not to get sucked in to drama and emotions.

If you’re divorced with kids, you can’t look at this whole process as a “game”. I used to feel like when my ex skipped out on paying a medical bill or an athletic bill that he “won.” Really? What did he win? He kept his money in his pocket and I chose to support my kids. Oh well. If it makes him feel good to not do what the court told him he should, what should I care? I need to continue to play my “game” my way and not worry about playing defense all the time.

Try looking at your divorce as supporting both teams. I know this may be hard if your ex tries to always be the “winner” and takes “shots” every chance he/she can get. But try it. I’ve been testing this experiment out for a few weeks now, and ya know what? The “shots” are still taken, but because I’m trying to cheer everyone else on, his “shots” go by almost un-noticed. I keep playing my way, keep my strategy up of living a better life, and I applaud all of the good things happening out on the court. Because winning isn’t everything and divorce isn’t a game.

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SailAway_WebAn old email came up in a search in my email sent box, and when I saw the title, I knew exactly what it said. I looked at the subject of the email and my heart dropped a little. I opened the email. I’m not sure why I did, but I did. It was a simple note I sent to my ex husband a few years ago.

I want you to know something: I forgive you.
 
I forgave you a long time ago and my heart is at peace.
 
I wish you the best in life and hope you find happiness. Truly, I do.
 
I will always have a love for you and I thank you for our four amazing kids. 
 
May God be with you always,
 
Lori

I sent that note on the 1 year anniversary of the day I decided to end our marriage. I can’t really remember the details behind my wanting to send the email or the feelings I had when I wrote the note to him. I do remember that I had come to peace with the death of our life together and I wanted to let him know that I was at peace. I know deep-down his heart hurt for hurting me and the kids, but his response didn’t show that hurt. His response was rude and unfeeling. But I didn’t send that note to get a response. I sent that note to free him of any pain in his heart for the hurt he had caused in mine.

I do wish him the best, happiest life. I hope he is happy with his wife and new family. I hope he and the kids can mend their relationships. I hope we can be friends some day–even though, I’m sure it will never happen.

As I prepare to move away from the final piece of my post-divorce life, my single-mom home, I took one last look at the journey that lead me to where I am today. It’s like standing on the edge of a boat with my new family of 10 and slowly coasting away from the shoreline of a place that seems to be familiar but no longer makes sense to me. The glimpse into that email was like recalling a dream, but as I really look at it, I’m not sure if that life was a dream or if it indeed happened to me. That’s a good thing, I guess.

Today, my ex is happy and I am happy. And isn’t that the goal of divorce? So that you’ll both be happier, apart? My kids seem to be healing and getting better in their new lives and time is healing all of us little by little. I can honestly tell you that the journey through divorce and recovery is not an easy thing. Forgiving my ex and myself for “failing” our kids took some time. That type of guilt is something that each parent of divorce faces. It’s an inevitable thing. You’ll revisit that place of guilt when the road gets bumpy: kids with problems at school, kids who deal with friend issues, kids who deal with disappointment. You’ll ask yourself, “If I wasn’t divorced, would this have happened?”

These are the normal ebbs and flows of life after divorce.

I feel like our move is the final step away from my life after divorce. It feels as though the final page of the book I’ve been reading for the past 3 and-a-half years has reached it’s ending. That book was full of pain, desperation, strength, hope, and love. Now the time has come for me to close the book and move on to the next book in the series. It’s a book filled with new beginnings, new lessons, and new challenges. I hope you’ll stay tuned for the wonderful story.

Oh, P.S. Our house has multiple offers on it, and we’ll be making a decision tonight. Feeling blessed as we decide who will get to love our home as much as we did.

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