Posts from the ‘motherhood’ category

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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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.

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Life lessons can hit you head on, blind side you, or whack you from behind and leave you face down trying to figure out what the crap just happened. It’s funny how these things creep up on you…kinda like granny panties (Side note: switch to a thong if this happens to you…less material up there makes wedgies obsolete!)

Next week, I’m looking forward to celebrating my 44th birthday. Who am I kidding, no I’m not. I am looking forward to celebrating it in Las Vegas with my husband, but I digress.

As I look back at my 43 years so far, I’ve had my share of life lessons I’ve learned. Some I took like a spoonful of sugar. Others are still a bitter pill I try to swallow with a smile on my face.

After trudging through all these lessons and “aha moments” in my life, I’ve paved the path for others. I’ve been there, done that! The following are a number of things I know to be true. Hopeful a few of these will help you along your journey!

1. When you grow up with a parent who indirectly (or directly) criticizes you about your hair, choice in boys, choice in friends, choice to dance and says “ there’s no way I’m gonna let you go out there and shake your ass” you MUST look within yourself for your value. They don’t want to compliment you or congratulate you because then they (they being a narcissist) won’t be the center of attention. And once they see (in their mind, that is) you passing them in talent, looks or intelligence, they will begin to “hitch their wagon” to you. That extra pressure is like cement shoes. Remind yourself it is not your job to make that personality happy in their life (The life they complain about often to you). It’s your job to build a life for YOU. The one you want. Not the one your mother wants you to have.

2. There’s a phrase that Forest Gump repeats, one that his mother taught him: “Stupid is as stupid does.” The same is true about negativity. Negative is as negative does. I was married to a man who called his sister fat and lazy and expressed his disgust for her, got pissed that the neighbor copied us by painting her water meter to the point that he wouldn’t talk to her, ended a friendship with a couple we often went out with because the husband didn’t tip, and despised a teammate of my son’s because his mother was a bitch. I was raised by a woman like this who had the same mud-colored glasses on. And the more I was around these two, the more deep in the mud I became. My ex and I became so annoyed at that neighbor that we actually moved a few months later. Yes, moved! And yes, the mother of the boy was completely abrasive and spoiled and wanted her kid at short-stop and batting forth and put high demands on the coaches, but that didn’t give my ex a right to tell me he loved it every time that boy struck out. I had to remind this man that the kid up to bat was an 11 year old boy. When you are around this person, you get sucked in to their false reality. You end up griping on the phone together. You go to family dinners and are itching to spread the “how dare theys” and “can you believes.” The energy is heavy and dirty and toxic and it swallows you. Your mud-colored glasses make you critical and constantly looking for everyone’s faults. You must recognize when you think this way and break free from the pull of this type of personality. EVERYONE is good enough. EVERYONE tries their best every day. EVERYONE deserves love. And until a person shows you otherwise, you should be gracious, giving and open. Stop right now and ask yourself Am I with a person like this?

3. Leaving the people with the personalities I’ve mentioned above, whether through a divorce or by setting boundaries, is never an easy thing when you’ve spent considerable time with these people. I’ve seen that lots of people move in and out the narcissist’s life. But those of us that have stayed with/tolerated/enabled these types of people have a hard time truly leaving. Sense the signs early. These people will make you feel guilty for having your own goals. They poo-poo your ideas or shoot your dreams down, always pointing out how they’re absurd. It will take everything you have to pull away. They will toss and tangle you in their games and you must keep walking.

4. Once you finally get away from a narcissist, you will not be yourself for awhile. It’s a strange, crazy phenomenon to be mourning the “old” you and at the same time trying on so many “new” yous. It’s freeing and scary and crazy and sometimes, it’s stupid. You might lie down at night and hate yourself for some of these moments. There are things I felt and did and tried that I glance back on and think Yeah…that wasn’t so smart! But those things are part of my journey. And each is a thread in the pieces that make me, me. I mean, really, I didn’t date much as a teen so taking off for a weekend to St. George with a man I only spoke to twice on the phone isn’t the “old” Lori (or all that smart for that matter). But the “new” Lori said yes and met a great friend and we shared lots of divorce drama stories. Be careful with yourself. And be forgiving.

5. When a beautiful 21 year old guy grabs you and pulls you into the bathroom to sneak a kiss before you return to your table, let the moment happen. At 41, to learn that lesson, well that was a spoonful of sweet, sweet sugar.

6. When someone tells you they love you, and you think they’ll love you forever, there’s a chance they don’t even know what love is. Or their too proud to show it. Or they just never loved you in the first place. And that’s ok.

7. Your kids will heal after the dust of divorce settles…on their own time. And they’ll never be the same. This is a bitter pill for me. At least for now. I’m crushed to see their pain still resurface. I’m shattered their paths were altered forever. I pray every night they each find their true selves and grow and love. Still working on this one.

8. Learning to trust again takes time. And it also takes a leap of faith. People will take advantage of your big heart. People will lie to you. People will look at you with pity in their eyes or judge you for your “unfortunate situation.” Don’t harden your shell. Don’t stoop to their level. Don’t give up on the joys of life and experiencing and growing. Just. Don’t. Do. It.

9. The person you left will continue to throw rocks at you. They will file court orders, they will judge your parenting, they will spread lies about you and spit venom at you at every chance they can. And the sun will rise again tomorrow. And it will be another wonderful day you can celebrate being free.

10. Invest in people who invest in you. So many people surround me and support me and care for me and love me and my life is full. No one makes me feel guilty. No one puts me down. They don’t criticize me. They are there for me. Genuinely and sincerely.

11. When someone new tells you they love you, and you think they’ll love you forever, there’s a chance they just might.

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I’m not quiet and shy. You won’t find me sitting in the corner at a party watching all of the action from the sidelines. It’s not in my nature. I’m a strong, athletic woman who at 5 foot10 inches tall can walk into a room and intimidate people. Ask one of my best friends about her first impressions of me and she’ll tell you about seeing me in the hallway of our kids’ school and thinking Look at her all tall and blonde. She’s got it goin on!

At that time in my life, I was just entering the world of frazzled single momhood and drifting like a lost ship at sea in the dark just trying to find solid ground to land on. My life had been tossed up in the air like a bowl of confetti. It was sprinkled everywhere for everyone to see and falling all around me at a fast rate. I hardly felt “put together” but I was on a journey to find myself again and the glow must have shown on my face.

After being with someone for nearly 20 years who didn’t seem to appreciate the “true” me, I had turned into a quiet, unsure human being. I’ve spent lots of time doubting myself, my looks, my worth. I lived in that zip code for waaaaaaay too long! Near the end of that relationship I began my metamorphosis into the strong, happy person I am now and I’m not apologizing one bit for my strength and confidence. (Damn, that sounds cocky and outright snobbish–but it’s not meant that way at all!)

It wasn’t a very long road back to confidence and true-happiness, because starting my new life was like freeing my soul to live its true purpose. Most important to note: I got to this place on my own. I didn’t jump into one relationship after another to fix myself. A man didn’t help me feel beautiful. Money didn’t make me feel successful. It all started within myself.

Yes, there were (and are) days filled with self-doubt. But not many. I catch myself when I’m putting myself down in my head. Those crappy self-talks you have in your head about how dumb or crazy a mistake you made was or how your stomach isn’t as flat as it used to be? Those aren’t allowed! So stop that right now. Think of all the wonderful things you are and how far you’ve come.

Today, I am one week away from turning 44. I’ve raised 4 kids, sacrificed a lot for a marriage that failed, paid lawyers fees, moved my kids, embraced the opportunity to grow, and moved on with my life. I am more loving, confident, sexual, outgoing, fulfilled, happy and positive than I ever have been in my entire life. And people notice.

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There’s a certain energy that surrounds you when you enjoy the person you’ve become. You will walk taller. You smile more. Your owning it and feeling like the sexiest woman on the planet will have people feeling drawn to you and you will soon be booking long weekends in bed with your spouse or significant other. If people can’t embrace that or want you to change because their insecure or can’t handle your confidence, don’t change who you are for them. You will only end up unhappy and broken. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt!

I challenge you today to quiet that critical voice in your head. Practice smiling. A lot. Laugh. Flirt even. Hell, take your clothes off and stand naked in front of the mirror and name, out loud, 10 beautiful things about your body. You can do this! Stop comparing yourself to an image in your head and get your sexy on! Up your energy and own who you are. There is no one else out there like you so show people the best you. You’ll be happier, and they’ll be happy you showed them who the best you really is!

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Mojo.

Confidence.

Comfortable in your own skin.

Authentic self.

I think it’s quite safe to say that everyone is here on earth to find it. No matter what you call “it,” it is at the core of happiness and the true sign of success. Many people are fooled to believe that such happiness is purchased with cash (or credit–depends on the person) and it’s meant to be shown off to the world. You’re successful when you have a large home, new cars in the driveway, glamorous vacations multiple times a year, and…

Wrong.

I remember there was a point during my first marriage when I felt as though something was missing in my life, and I couldn’t identify it. I felt like there was something more in the world/my life for me and my family. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I knew I needed to find it.

This comes as a surprising admission from a girl who seemed to have it all from the outside. Even as I write this it’s strange to admit out loud. I was a woman who had just had her second child–the second of two in two years. Two wonderful boys. We had a beautiful home, and we both had worked hard so I would only have to work part-time and could be home with my kids. I had always wanted to be a mother, and these children were my greatest blessings. Yet somehow, I felt lost in my life. My life as Lori.

One day, as my baby and my 21 month-old napped, I turned the channel over to Oprah and watched as she interviewed Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of her new book, Something More. I listened as her and Oprah chatted about gratitude, joy, simplicity. All the things I longed for in my life yet couldn’t see in front of me. I looked around at my life and felt quite selfish for wanting more when it seemed I already had so much.

I soon picked up the book and began to read it. I felt embarrassed for my then husband to see it, because I knew he would judge me and make fun of me as he often did when I went on one of my “personal growth” journeys. I read through the exercises and made mental notes about “returning to my childhood” and “excavating my authentic self.” I began tapping into the Lori I used to be, but I never did finish that book or my personal journey…life, more children, and other distractions took over my day-to-day.

It’s a shame I stopped “searching,” really. Because now, I look back at that moment in time, and I see that’s when I realized things in my life were becoming very empty. My ex had become friends with a woman at work, her husband had called me to see why our home number was appearing on his phone bill all of the time, and I was told I was “overreacting” when I asked my spouse about the phone call. The tides were changing in our marriage, and I became more and more the strong mother rather than nurture myself or my already failing marriage. The feeling of something is missing was pushed to the side and I went into survival mode.

I became the girl who looked forward to “someday.” “Someday,” when my kids are older. “Someday,” when we have more money. “Someday,” when we build our dream house. “Someday,” when I go back to work full-time. The list went on and on.

But life was happening right then. I was so busy planning for life to be “less messy” and figured that’s when I would start “living.”

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Today, I know I’ve found my mojo. I’ve said it before here, and I’ll say it again. I’ve done the “work.” I’ve asked myself all of the questions. Who am I? What feels right for me? And ya know what? I’ve figured it out. And the way I feel inside is powerful, sexy, and strong.

It’s a slight rush, really, to come home and be almost giddy when you ponder your life and your day-to-day. There is laughter in my home, there is passion and love in my marriage, and there is strength in my family. I am successful, and I am happy.

When my son texts me and asks if we can all have family time and watch a movie together–that is success.

When my husband texts me “Good morning beautiful!” and pulls me into him every night to snuggle–that is success.

When my 3 year old step-son looks up at me and says, “I love you Lowi!”–that is success.

When I can help out a friend, or someone sends me a note about how much my blog has helped them–that is success.

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.” ~Henry David Thoreau

This quote from Henry David Thoreau spells out success beautifully. He urges us to advance confidently in the direction of our dreams. Have a dream. Let me say that again, HAVE A DREAM! Dreaming is not a waste of time!

Endeavor to live the life which you have imagined. That means to try, every day, to live that life. It also means that you may not live in the moment of “the life you have imagined” at all times. And that’s okay. Carry on. And most certainly, do not wait until you’ve reached that ever-so-talked about “finish line” to begin living that life. Live it today.

And finally, in the “common hours” of your life, be thankful. Be aware. Success will happen everyday. Make each day an occasion–and rise to it. (Thank you, Mr. Magorium, for such wise words!)

“When you are truly comfortable in your own skin, not everyone will like you, but you won’t care about it one bit!”

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I should be busy preparing for the arrival of a baby. I should be wondering how I’ll get through the sleepless nights and if I could nurse the baby successfully like I did my other four children. I should be buying diapers and booties. I should be watching my husband place his hands on my belly and rest his head on my lap as we giggle about the little baby kicks and hiccups.

But I’m not.

After suffering a miscarriage mid-April, I will never get to experience those things that run through my mind lately.

My heart still hurts, and sometimes I tear up at the thought of the “what could have beens” of having another baby. Brandon would be so attentive by my side through a pregnancy, delivery, and caring for the both of us. I can imagine falling asleep while nursing the baby and having him come in and kiss my forehead and the little one and playing with her fingers or toes. I see us lying on the bed together and watching in awe how our baby kicks and looks around the room. I can picture my older sons holding the her and being so protective and proud.

I’ve accepted the loss and I’m ok. I understand the risks that were in place. But it doesn’t make it hurt any less. It’s a piece of my family that began but is now gone. It’s been the hardest thing Brandon and I have faced. And unless you’ve been there, I’m not sure you could understand, and that’s okay.

So these next few weeks may be filled with a few tears for us. A time to think about the “what ifs.” My heartache is real and I’ll allow myself to be sad over everything, but it won’t cripple me. I’m blessed to have a wonderful family and second marriage. I’m blessed with 8 kids and our furry kid, too. And I’m blessed for the connection our baby created in me and my husband.

Hug your kids today. Hug your spouse. And for those who have lost someone, say a little prayer and let them know you miss them. ❤️

Photo credit: Flickr

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Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. Cooler weather and a new schedules as school begins make me happy, and Halloween runs as a close second to my favorite holiday, Christmas.

My kids are getting older now, so the holiday is changing for us. No more scary music playing out the windows or silhouettes of witches upstairs. Now it’s about “teen things” and all about friends. This year they are at their dad’s house for the holiday, and I’m looking forward to doing my own thing.

A friend asked me today if I missed the days when they were small, and I most definitely do. I have such fun memories of the Buzz Lightyear, the 50s poodle skirt girl, the Dorothy and the ghoul dressed in black. But I also have memories that cloud my mind.

Halloween 2002 was the day I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child. My ex was unsure he wanted to have more kids when we discussed having a fourth, but I felt there was one more baby waiting for us up there in heaven. We agreed we would “try” for a month or two but we really weren’t “trying” that much at all. To say I was shocked when I found out I was pregnant is probably a large understatement. Shocked, but absolutely thrilled!

On Halloween evening, I was nervous when my then-husband came home. How would I tell him? Would he be happy? Or upset? He came home from work in a grumpy mood, so I kept the pregnancy to myself as we walked around the neighborhood with our 3 kids. We walked house-to-house, and each time I would try to think of something cute to say to tell him we were expecting, but I just couldn’t find the words.

Later that night, after getting the kids settled with a few of their favorite treats in the other room, I sat at the kitchen counter separating candy into piles. My then-husband watched as I was going through Kit-Kats and skittles and said to me, “Maybe we can actually have sex tonight…you probably have cobwebs growing in your vagina, it’s been so long.”

I could hardly believe my ears. My blood pumped inside of me, and I was angry he was lashing out in the passive-aggressive way as he always did to make me feel guilty. Note to husbands out there: this is NOT the way to make your wife feel special and loved and close to you. It pisses her off.

I stood from my stool, dropped the candy from my hands and said, “Oh really? Well, I’m pregnant, so it obviously hasn’t been that long, now has it. Congratulations.” and I stomped upstairs.

Why would a husband say such a thing to his wife? Why would the person who was supposed to love and cherish me treat me like I didn’t matter one ounce and my feelings meant squat? Who the hell knows? Today, I know better and don’t have to tolerate any of it. That day was not the best of days for me, I must say. But my beautiful girl arrived 8 months later, and she is one of the greatest things in my life.

Halloween will always be a favorite time of year for me. And no bad memory, even that one, can ruin it.

*image: Flickr

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I was married to a bully for 17 years.

I think about that life and now it’s hard to imagine. I kept a spotless house for fear of angering him. I changed the way I dressed, dropped friends, and gave up hobbies to make him feel more secure. I admit: I pretty much changed everything about myself because of him. Leaving him opened my eyes to true love, integrity and loyalty in a partner.

So here’s the thing about bullies: once they know their control games and manipulation tactics don’t work anymore, their insecurities grow and so does their anger.

The man I was once married to was told about this blog by one of my children’s coaches.

He’s read each and every post on my blog. Multiple times.

Imagine my surprise when I was served papers to appear in court and attached to the documents were printouts of my blog entries.

Absent from the documents were the blog posts where I speak of my love for Brandon, his love for me, my healing, my moments of clarity as I’ve grown through the power of writing and love received. All of it.

The only things included were posts about him.

Documents state I’m harassing him. He states I’m vindictive and can’t move on.

Blogging about the journey to my wholehearted, vulnerable, authentic self has helped me and many others heal. And I’m proud of the roads I’ve taken. I’m also proud of my writing.

I know that many of you were once married to a similar type of individual. I know that many of you long for a healthy co-parenting relationship and dance the dance, still, just as I do.

I’m proud of myself for leaving a bully. I’m thankful for all of the connections I’ve made through this and other blogs. And most importantly, I’m not afraid to write.

My children see healing and strength in me. My husband sees my heart and my integrity. And everyone sees the truth.

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The last few weeks have brought so much reward to me and hopefully to my kids as well. Now that I’m working from home, we’ve spent time together. We’ve talked. We’ve been busy with sports and other things, but we’ve also had some downtime, which has been great for all of us. Last night, my oldest son had a softball game and he asked me if I would go watch him. Last year, he played on a team with Brandon and I and we all had a great time. Brandon and I are much too busy this year to play, but his dad asked him to play on a team he’s played on for a couple years and my son wanted our whole family to go and watch.

“Sure,” I told him. There was only a small part of me that didn’t want to go, and that’s because my ex has been pretty difficult with me (again) lately. But I’m not one to let my ex separate me from what my kids want, so of course we went. Our family sat out on the grass, and I was respectful to give my ex and his wife their space. My son wanted us to sit closer, but I was fine out on the grass having a picnic with Brandon and the kids.

My son had a great game, and it was so great to see him out playing ball again. And ya know, I didn’t feel uncomfortable at all watching my ex husband play in the same game my son was playing in. Some people would think I’m crazy to go and sit there watching my ex play–with all of the drama that man has brought to my life–but I was really there only to support my son, so it wasn’t strange at all. If anything, I watched with an appreciation that he and my son could play ball together. Now, I’m sure it could have been strange for my ex and his wife to have me on “their turf” but again, I wasn’t there for them.

The sun was setting just as the game was ending, and Brandon and I piled all the kids into the car to drive home. We all sang Flo Rida songs at the top of our lungs while we were all squished into the car, and it really was a memorable night.

The emotions started rolling in for me once we got home–after I replayed the evening in my mind. My heart began to break as I thought about how my son has to live his life with a gap as wide as the Grand Canyon right down the middle. Dad on one side. Mom on the other. Why does it have to be like that? I really don’t understand why it needs to be that way. Brandon and his ex’s are friendly with each other when they’re at the kids things. Why can’t my kids have the same?

I have longed for a “normal” co-parenting situation for so long. One where my son’s family goes to his games and support him and parents can be friendly and the animosity is void. But I know that will never happen for my kids. I’ve tried to be friendly with my ex. I’ve tried to speak to him as a respectful adult. He insists on acting childish and still won’t make eye contact–4 years later he still refuses to make eye contact with me. It’s almost as if he’s on a pedastal and he can’t bring himself to “stoop so low” to even look at me, the mother of his 4 children.

A few weeks ago, my daughter played ball on a Friday night during our “drop off time.” I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to pick up our older daughter from soccer that night or if he was going to so I walked over to her father to ask if he would be picking her up. He and his wife sat there staring off into the distance and wouldn’t acknowledge me standing next to their seats. He continued to stare off into the distance and replied, “it’s my parent time–I’ll handle it.” My response was calm and clear, “I just need you to communicate that with me so I know what’s going on.” His eyes rolled and he formed his hand into a puppet mouth pointed at my face and opened and closed his fingers and thumb to mimic my talking, and he didn’t respond again to me. This man is so mature.

I don’t want “normal” co-parenting as much for myself (but Jesus, that would be nice) as much as I want it for my kids. Imagine the love my son could have felt last night if BOTH of his parents were talking and communicating and cheering for him at his game. Imagine how safe he would feel if his mother could walk up to him and his team after the game and speak to his father about how well he played. Imagine if we acted as if we were two old friends who shared a child and the anger and insecurity was gone. Imagine if the two of us could stand with our son and tell him how amazing we thought he was–together–as his parents. But then I remember that my ex is a narcissist, and he cannot put the needs of his 4 kids above himself. And his insecurities, anger, and immaturity will always take center stage.

My ex’s lack of compassion and respect towards me doesn’t really affect me, but it DOES affect his children. They feel the discomfort. They have been told that during “his time” they sit with him and he has drawn the line in the sand. He has painted parameters and boundaries around their relationships with each parent and they are expected to stay within each boundary, seperately. My heart breaks for the way he has changed their lives. They are four innocent people who are trying to love and repair, and they won’t ever be able to fully heal until their father does. And I’m not sure that will ever happen.

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