Archive for ‘April, 2014’

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You’re missing so much. Don’t you see it?

Being a parent is full time, whether you’re the custodial parent or not. Why don’t you see that? Because, I now know the only person you can see is yourself. It’s always been that way. Everyone else in your life is an merely an accessory.

Do you know that our son is completely in love? He goes to his girlfriend’s house and hangs out with her younger brother who has autism. That boy makes our boy smile. Do you know that her parents think our son is awesome? Her parents are nice. I met her mother and we chatted about the kids. You sent our older son to pick him up at their home one night. I bet you don’t even know where she lives. Do you talk to him about the photos they take together? Do you have any idea how his heart hurt and practically broke to pieces when he saw a friend kissing her on the cheek on Instagram, but they talked through it and it was a misunderstanding and our son could breathe again once he found out?

Our daughters told me that you are making them miss their games and tournaments this weekend because you and your wife planned a weekend away with them. You’re traveling only 45 minutes away, and yet you won’t take them to their activities because “your time” is more important. I’m sure you don’t want to spend the gas money to run them back and forth, as that was your usual gripe for not running the kids to their things. While it’s nice you’re taking them on a getaway, did you ever think that spending time with the kids on the ride to their games is more valuable to them than some activity you’ve planned? They work so hard with their teams, and you’re making it so they have to let their team down and miss their games. Their sports can be bonding time, too. That’s the stuff they’ll remember. You don’t see the disappointment in their eyes because they have to miss things because you don’t plan around their schedules. Instead, you schedule activities they really don’t care about just so you can take pictures of them and post them on Facebook letting everyone know of your “super-dad” status.

You’re missing the real things.

You don’t make them a priority, and they see it.

What I see is a man who is all alone because he was too blind to see.

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Four little faces are my world. From the moment I became a mother, I knew that I would never do anything more important than be a good mother to these kids. Of course, this photo was taken almost 4 years ago, so these faces aren’t so little anymore, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need me as much now that they’re older. If anything, I find that they need me more!

I’m sure most of you moms are a lot like me, and you struggle each night as you lay your head on your pillows and ask yourself Did I do enough for my children today? Boy, have I been asking myself that question a lot. This is not an easy world we live in. Our kids face more pressure now than we ever did as kids. Pressure to be perfect. Pressure to keep up. Pressure to get good grades, have expensive clothes, have the newest iPod/Phone/Pad, you name it, they deal with it. I’m not the type of mother to shelter my kids and have them live in the ever-protective-bubble, but I want to make sure I prepare them for what’s out there.

Children of divorce have all of those typical pressures on them, but they’ve also got many, many more that were added to their plates when their parent’s chose to divorce.

For instance, my kids are shuttled back-and-forth to their dad’s house every Tuesday, every-other Thursday, and every-other weekend. They’ve learned to pack quickly, to schedule friend time on days that aren’t their dad’s days, to communicate to their dad if they’ve got something they’ve got going on so they can “negotiate” their time, and they’ve learned to live an adaptive life that can be mobile. If they left their soccer shin guards at their dad’s, forget it. He won’t run them down to my house. If their charger was left in their room at dad’s, they ask mom to borrow hers. It’s a different kind of stress in their lives, and it frustrates me they have this extra layer going on and I can’t take it away.

On top of living out of a suitcase, children of divorce deal with their parent’s breakup, their parent’s new activities, new friends, dating, then marrying a new person who comes into their lives. Their time is already limited with each parent, and now they have to share the rare time they do have with mom/dad with an adult that is in the picture, too (and, possibly, step-siblings as well).

How do we, as divorced mothers, make this back-and-forth and added stress easier on our kids? How do we give each child special time, attention, and validation so they understand how important they are to us?

I spent a lot of my childhood hanging out on my own–I had parents that were very busy. They were busy working, working out, golfing, bowling, vacationing, or spending time with friends. I’m not super-close with my parents now. We’re close, but not like I had imagined it would be. I always I wished I had a family where we had Sunday dinners, family gatherings, and cousins hanging out together. We don’t.

I often wonder if I’m doing enough. Do I make my kids lives a little easier or a little harder? Do I really listen when they come to me or am I busy with other things and nodding because I hear them talking?

Today, I’m recommitting to be present–to be aware. Today I’m not going to try to check off the items off the list, be right on time, or keep the trains running. Today, I’m remembering that mom is the best title in the world. It’s not VP, CEO or Director. It’s mom.

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Last Saturday morning, after experiencing some bleeding and assuming I was miscarrying our baby, Brandon and I went for an ultrasound to see if there was any chance the pregnancy was still intact. He and I had spent most of Friday night in a numb fog, crying on and off for most of the evening.

During the ultrasound, the doctor told me that he saw no baby, no sack, and told me my body had probably flushed all signs of the baby over the past day or two. Brandon held my hand and I tried to be tough as nails.

At work on Monday, after just having told my boss on Friday I was expecting, I tried to be tough as I talked to him about my weekend and our loss.

The past few days as friends shared their love and prayers with me, I tried to be tough.

Today, I’m not feeling very tough. I thought of the opportunities I’ll now miss because I’m not pregnant, and it’s made me sad. No holding a newborn baby in my arms and nursing in the wee hours of the morning. No baby cries echoing through the house. No sweet-smelling skin of a newborn. No piece of Brandon and me, together. No seeing my children become big brothers and big sisters. It’s all gone.

I don’t know why I’ve been putting on the tough act through all of this. My body and my heart are going through loss and healing and it’s perfectly okay for me to be sad. Lori, it’s okay to feel. It’s okay to mourn.

Brandon’s heart can’t take another loss, so we’ll likely not try again. And with my advanced age and now a miscarriage, the chances are quite high that I won’t be able to sustain a healthy pregnancy going forward.

The emotions swirling around me are reminding me to feel what I’m going through. So today, I’m not going to be tough. Today, I’m going to feel.

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A genuine fear I had after I divorced my husband of 17 years was being sure to NOT pick the same type of man again. You know how they always say, “Oh, she has a type!” or “He’s always picks the crazy ones.” I didn’t want those scenarios to be me! After all of the shit I dealt with during my first marriage, the last thing I wanted was someone who was ego-centered, negative or possessive and jealous.

This man, my man, is nothing like that.

I was still seeing my counselor occasionally when Brandon and I first started dating. I expressed my fears of choosing the same type of man–I was kind of afraid my “picker” was broken. I remember specifically stating to my therapist, “It’s not like there’s a book on guaranteeing second marriages.” She quickly replied, “Actually, Lori, there is proof that marriages that are real and vulnerable–the kind of vulnerable where you can show someone your darkest sides or deepest fears, work. And from what you’ve told me, you’ve already shared that side of you with Brandon.”

She was right.

Through all of the growing I had done on my own after my divorce, I had learned to be open and vulnerable with Brandon. Because he made me feel safe. He made me want to be a better person, and if I had to break down and cry and tell him how scared I was before I could be a better person, I would do it.

Brandon wouldn’t try to fix me. He still doesn’t. But he listens.

He looks at life as an experience–not a contest.

He has a relationship with his parents–this is important.

He has a relationship with his children–this is more important.

He wants to protect me and care for me. I’ve never had someone be that person for me.

He doesn’t expect anything from me.

He looks at my children as if they’re his own and he feels their pain and their happiness.

He supports my goals, my dreams, and is proud of who I am.

He is nothing like my ex.

 


If you’ve been in a relationship with a manipulator, it’s very common to choose the same type of person again. Very. So if you’ve been there, how do you help yourself and how do you recognize if you’re falling for the same routine?

  1. Stay connected to family and friends. Manipulators like to get you away from loved ones and friends. If they have you all to themselves, your self-image is tied directly to them. You begin to feel happy when you do for them and sad when they tell you you’ve missed the mark–then you over-do to try to make it up. If you have a support system, you have other people who will help you to see that everything isn’t always your fault.
  2. ALWAYS work on your self-esteem. When you feel good about yourself, you’re less-likely to fall for their tactics. You’re also less likely to blame yourself or let the manipulator “label” you or put you down. A manipulator will try to get you to give up the things you love or that make you feel good. Again, they’ve got you right where they want you if you aren’t happy.
  3. Recognize when you feel shame or anxiety. When you are in a relationship, you shouldn’t feel shamed or anxious around your partner. If you feel “not good enough” or your partner is always angry or explosive around you, your response is to try harder to do better or to keep the waters calm. This is how they get you to do what they want.

Are you in a manipulative relationship?

Take this quiz from lifeesteem.org

Answer the following questions with a True or False.

  1. I sometimes feel confused about what my partner really wants.
  2. I feel that my partner frequently takes advantage of my giving nature.
  3. Even when I do something that pleases my partner, the positive feelings never last long.
  4. With my partner I feel that it’s hard just to be myself or do what I really want.
  5. Around my partner, I feel taken for granted.
  6. I seem to work harder on this relationship than my partner does.
  7. My partner has a very strong impact on what I think and feel.
  8. I sometimes feel that I am trapped in my relationship and there is no way out.
  9. I don’t feel as good about myself in my relationship as I once did.
  10. I feel that I need my partner more than my partner needs me.
  11. No matter how much I have done, I feel that it’s not good enough for my partner.
  12. I feel that my partner does not understand who I really am.

There are twelve questions in this quiz. If you answered more than half of them with True, you might want to consider exploring whether you are in a manipulative relationship.

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Exhausted.

At 6 months pregnant, I had been working full-time as an assistant to a Marketing VP at a big technology company. You would think that anyone who is in the upper echelon of a tech company would be computer-savy and have mad-skills when it comes to computers. Not that man.

My days were filled with printing and answering his emails (yes, I said printing). He didn’t understand how to use email (it was 1997–email was main-stream by now), so he liked ALL of his emails printed and on his desk first-thing at 8:00 am. Once I brought the stack of in-box items, he would sit at his round meeting table (his desk was covered in “things to read”) and hand-write his responses to co-workers, collegues and the like.

While he read off of dead trees, I kept busy doing budgeting, meeting with other admins on processes, and training the new hires. I was well-respected and I enjoyed my job, but I was looking forward to the arrival of my first son who was due in 3 months.

I was 26. My husband was 27. We had been married for close to four years, and had planned this (and every other) pregnancy. It was a conscious decision to wait to have children, because I was insistent that I would not work full-time and have a daycare raise my child.

I had worked 2 jobs since our engagement and would typically be heading to the mall for work, but this night I was headed home. I was glad to be on my way to comfy sweats and a quiet evening.

My second job was working for a local photographer I had met when I was looking for someone to photograph our wedding. He couldn’t function on a computer, and I wanted to work off my wedding package so my parents wouldn’t have to pay for photos. It was a match made in heaven. I didn’t love working 2 jobs after the wedding day, but it was extra income, and my husband often worked late, so I figured I’d be earning more money for our home and our family.

My husband came home and was extra happy and talkative that day. He was in rare form, and seemed happy as a clam. I wasn’t sure what was putting him in such a great mood–he’d typically eat dinner and zone out in front of the television after work, but I was glad he wasn’t grumpy from work. He was practically giddy tonight. His words spilled out about his day and he somehow managed to mention that he and a few women from his office had gone to a strip club for lunch.

I’m sorry, what? A strip club.

I stood there in my hot-pink shirt, the hem just long enough to cover my expanding belly, and tears swelled in my eyes.

“You went where?” I asked him. His smile turned sour and he spouted off a few, “Oh, what’s the big deal? It was just me and Yvonne and 2 other girls…it’s not like we were watching the strippers! They thought it’d be fun!”

Yvonne and 2 other girls. Yvonne…the Yvonne who is nearly 40 with platinum-bleached, too-blonde hair, ginormous fake boobs she’s not afraid to flaunt, knee-high black boot, too-skimpy mini-skirt wearing can’t hack it in a real position so she flirts endlessly with mortgage customers to make money Yvonne.

I stared blankly at him in utter disgust and confusion. A) I didn’t even know he was the strip club type and B) His wife is 6 months pregnant and he’s standing here acting like what he did this afternoon is completely acceptable and can’t fathom why I’m upset.

“Do you know how disrespectful that is?” I shouted at him.

“Oh please!” He shouted back at me, not one bit of remorse in his tone.

The argument continued, and somehow, through the magic of the narcissist, he kept insisting this argument was now my fault. I was “overreacting” and I should be glad he went with women instead of the men in the office…because for some eff’d up reason, that makes it better.

As I argued with him I found myself lost in the swirls of deceit and smoke screens. I walked outside and sat on the steps in my back yard. It was almost March, and the grass was yellow and dead-looking still. The grass looked the way my insides now felt–dead, uncared for, cold and forgotten.

I had the phone in my hands and I slowly dialed my mother. I began explaining the story to her and tears streamed down my face. I was searching for validation, support and comfort…things I never received at home, especially that day.

That day.

The day I wanted to leave.

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