Posts from the ‘remarriage’ category

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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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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I cannot tell a lie. I adore looking forward to a new year and all of the possibilities it brings. Once Christmas has passed, I am giddy with ideas and plans. Yes, I dread taking down the tree and decorations and putting away the stockings, but once they start coming down I get this strange urge to clean, organize, purge, dream. Some would call this wanting to sit down and think-out the next steps in my life a sickness (my husband, Brandon, thinks I’m crazy). Some, though, know exactly what I’m talking about.

Now don’t go confusing my “looking forward to a new year and new possibilities” with the all-too-sterotypical, self-inflicted New Years resolutions that some people make. I don’t do resolutions. Those seem too set in stone, too harsh, too deadline driven for me. I’d like to think of my looking forward as something less in the “planned” category and more in the “dreamed” category. If that makes any sense whatsoever. Yes, Lori, it makes complete sense! Dreams are a place we escape to. Dreams can be anything we want them to be. Plans, on the other hand, well, plans tend to involve too much thinking and not enough feeling. At least for me they do.

If I told you to sit down and plan out your next year, what’s the one thing that would be a huge factor in guiding most of your decisions? Where you are right now. Your present. Your current job, the city you live in, etc. Damn reality! But if I told you to take a deep breath and dream about the life you want for yourself in the next year, (just do it for a second) it’s like unleashing a tether. This “no boundary dreaming thing” may be an uncomfortable feeling for you, but just try it. You may come up with some crazy idea of living in Fiji in a hut with your children and living off the land for the next 30 years (or until your teens kill each other out of pure boredom, whichever comes first) and the idea will bring a smile to your face (well, the living there part, not the teens killing each other part).

I know what you’re thinking: Lori, I could never live in Fiji–who could afford that? Don’t be ridiculous. But that’s the sweet thing about dreams…they can be whatever you want them to be. Sit in a place filled with love and happiness and just dream. Your dreams are your happiness. Don’t include bills and responsibility (at least not at this point in the process). Just dream.

Once you see those dreams in your head, then you can try to understand the “whys” and “what do I needs” of this process.

Let’s look at the example above: Why are your dreaming about living in Fiji? Perhaps you long to put your feet in the sand and feel the ocean breezes. Or maybe, you’re tired of all of the bills and want to live a debt-free life where you don’t get weighed down by responsibilities. For whatever reasons, this dream took you to a place of peace in your head. Look at it from many angles. Then allow yourself to see if you can squeak some of that dream into your reality.

No, maybe you can’t fly your family to the South Pacific, but maybe you can save enough to take a four-day weekend trip to San Diego. What a trip that could be! If the dream of living off the land is what you long for, start planning now to plant a garden in the spring. Research, study. And celebrate your first crop! Do you see where I’m going with this? If you sprinkle bits-and-pieces of your dreams into your new year and, eventually, into your daily life, just imagine how happy (or accomplished) you’ll feel when you see your dreams becoming reality.

Dreaming hasn’t always been my strong suit, as most of you out there already know. It took me a little while to figure that out. Four years ago, when I was a freshly divorced mother of four, out of work and spending every penny I had on a divorce lawyer, most would have told you I was at rock bottom. And ya know what? That was never even a thought in my mind. It was in those dark days when I finally began to dream about what I wanted. Those dreams kept me going most days. Once I practiced this whole “dreaming” process, I figured out how to keep most of my dreams close to my grasp. I promise that dreams really do come true. They may not be as big and as magnificent as the original dream (I still haven’t been to Hawaii, and that’s been a dream of mine for 40 years), but sometimes close enough is close enough (Brandon and I spent a gorgeous week in Jamaica, and that was far better than my Hawaii dream).

A new year brings endless opportunities, and new beginnings can start many, many different ways. Be aware of you and be aware of your needs. Start a Pinterest board of your dreams. Follow bloggers that have chased their dreams and succeeded. Write them down in your journal. Do something! Your first step to a new beginning is all on you. Take it!

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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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As a survivor of divorce, I often feel like there are two parts of me that make up the whole me. One part was developed during my childhood and first marriage–40 years made me who I was. The second part of me is the part of me that has evolved post-divorce. The stronger,more confident, survivor that I am.

Sure, I suppose that some of the qualities I’ve developed along the way could have taken shape during the first 40 years of my life–the confidence ebbing and flowing and retracting throughout my life is something I’ve seen come and go. But for the most part, the second part is the real me. It’s the me I fought hard to become. It’s the me I gave myself permission to believe in.

For those of you that are going through divorce, or are fresh out of the war of court hearings, I urge you to take a moment and look at yourself. ONLY yourself for a moment (not the kids, not the family as a whole…you).

Ask yourself this question:

Was I really happy in that marriage? Or was I just comfortable?

There is a huge difference between the two.

While you’re in the trenches, duking it out with your soon-to-be ex, you’re either in survival mode, kill mode, or eff him/her mode. Whichever mask you’re wearing to hide the pain, don’t fool yourself into thinking your “happy marriage” is coming to an end. If your marriage was a good one, it wouldn’t be ending, really, would it.

I used to think me and my ex were happy. I used to think we could have made it work. Even as recently as last week, when Brandon and I were having a particularly rough day, I wondered if my life would have been easier if I just would have never gotten divorced. Short answer to that question: um, hell no.

Choosing to be with someone and be in a relationship takes work. Getting married takes work. Getting married for a second time takes more work!

After a divorce, it’s easy to go into shell-shock mode and lose yourself. Don’t do it. The main reason you’re probably getting divorced in the first place is because part of you is probably already lost…at least to some degree.

Each day after divorce is a day to discover who you really are. My divorce has not been a smooth one. I still deal with abusive power struggles and I get bumped around a bit. I did not see this side of my ex until I blew the whistle on his misbehavior and ended our marriage. But rather than letting it make me who I am, I remember why I’m on this journey. To find the real me. Not the husband-pleasing me. Not the take care of everyone and forget about myself me. But the real me.

At times, that may feel like I’m selfish. That may make me sound like I don’t care about anyone. But really, what life is about is growing and loving people and growing into the you you are meant to be.

Divorce can be a blessing. Divorce can be hard as hell. Divorce can be both things all at once. But if you peel away all the masks you’ve worn along your path to divorce, and you take on each day as a new day to have a good day, you’re bound to go to bed each night and be thankful for the opportunity to live your life. And guess what? You may live that life on your own… Or maybe, you’ll find a “happy marriage” along the way.

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I was thinking about my first marriage the other day. I remembered at one time telling my then-husband, “I could never marry someone who was divorced. Especially with kids.” I was young at the time, twenty-three, and it was hard to wrap my head around the idea of caring for someone else’s kids when I didn’t have any of my own.

My judgement came from watching my older brother leave for weeks at a time during the summer to go spend time with his father in Las Vegas. To me, my brother was part of MY family. My family only. He called my dad “dad” and he was my brother–not “half-brother,” brother! I wasn’t born when his father was married to my mother, and his dad never came to visit him (I don’t remember one visit). So to be told that he was going to see his dad for a few weeks was a strange thing for me and hard to watch.

Fast forward 20 years and here I am, married to a man who’s been divorced. And he has 4 kids…3 by one ex and 1 by another. The math and the logistical issues can sometimes be hard to swallow for some people. But we make it work. It takes some creative scheduling, but we do it.

When Brandon and I were first dating, my heart ached for Brandon’s youngest son. He was only a year old, and drop offs and pick ups broke my heart. You could tell he was so confused and saddened to leave his mom when we picked him up, then sad to leave his dad when we dropped him off. It wasn’t easy. I just wanted to fix things for him so he wouldn’t have to be so confused.

I remember on a few occasions I told Brandon he should try to work it out with his ex–for the baby’s sake. He needed both parents, and in a strange way I felt like I was in the way (even though they had broken up months before we got together). Brandon would grab my hand and remind me that the water under that bridge was too deep and there would be no chance of reconciling.

As a step-mom, seeing those tears has been one of the most difficult things for me.

I have loved Brandon’s kids as my own for quite awhile now. I respect their mothers and the relationships they had with Brandon, and I hope they know I care for the kids. I’m right there in the trenches through broken teenaged hearts, potty training and other issues that the kids face. I may not know what it’s like to have my parents broken up, but I do know the hurt that kids go through during the back and forth.

The shuffling from one house to the other is something they’ve known since they were all small. Unlike my kids who ranged from 12 to 6 when I was divorced, they’re quite used to this arrangement. That doesn’t mean one way is better/easier than another. It’s all hard. And it’s hard as a parent to watch. I’ve learned to empathize with the kids, and let them know that I know it’s hard. And I’ve also reminded them that even though we don’t see them all that much, we still love them and are their parents who are here for them just like the parents they live with.

Being a step-parent has brought me blessings I cherish and I’m happy I can play a part in Brandon’s kid’s lives. It’s taken some time for me to understand my role, but I’m feeling like I’m settling in.

Today, Brandon’s youngest (who just turned 3) heard me telling my daughter that Brandon and I may go out tomorrow for our anniversary and said, “And me too!”

I laughed and asked, “You want to come too? How come?”

He looked up and said, “Cause I love ya…I love you, and my mama, too.”

“I love you too, buddy,” I told him.

The back and forth may be hard, and it may be hard for me to watch, but he knows I love him and I know he loves me. I’m a pretty lucky girl.

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There’s an amazing thing that happens when you start feeling like you are in control of your life again. Okay, maybe “in control” is too bold of a statement–let’s say more in-tune with who you are and your family. Almost every parent has felt like they run around like a mad man/woman trying to get everything done, but unless you’ve been a divorced parent with multiple kids, you probably won’t understand the level of craziness that we parents hit post divorce.

You bust your ass at work to do a good job, bring home a somewhat respectable paycheck, and try to maintain balance with the kids and their activities, school, homework etc. All the while you’re at work, you end up missing the 4th grade program, the 6th grade field trip, and the kids are often left home alone after school and on non-recognized holidays at work like Halloween, Veteran’s Day etc. You feel like a schmuck. And when you take-off work because of dentist appointments, state fair presentations or to volunteer in class, you feel like an even bigger schmuck because you’re gone from work. It’s a lose-lose, really. And it sucks! It’s a battle that never ends.

Now that I’m at home, I’m battling another battle in my head–it’s an evil, mean little battle that creeps in every now and then. You’re being selfish–decreasing the family’s income to chase a dream and be home. How will you pay for braces/college/soccer and all the other unexpected things around the corner? Little shouts of doubt pierce my thoughts, and I shake them off and try to ignore that ugly lizard brain that tries to talk me out of something I know is good for me. But wow is it hard to keep the faith and push forward!

Two weeks ago, my oldest daughter tried out for the Elite Club National League team here in Utah. We got to the tryout, and she didn’t know a soul. We sat in the car and watched as girls were dribbling and talking and everyone seemed to know each other. As more cars pulled up, she saw a few familiar faces from school. I thought that may help ease her nerves, but she mentioned that the girls were part of a premiere club, and she was not. Tears welled up in her eyes. She was worried. “I don’t want to go out there,” she told me.

I watched as she immediately talked herself out of the team, because she didn’t have faith in herself or her skills. She was selling herself short, and she hadn’t even stepped foot on the field! Of course, I knew she was an outstanding player (she’s been playing a year up for 5 years), but getting her to see that is a different story. I watched as she fell apart–completely melting into the front seat of my car. “I can’t do it,” she said.

My heart broke. I’ve been there. I never tried anything if I wasn’t good at it–I wouldn’t be caught dead trying something I looked foolish trying. She is a lot like me. In that moment, instantly remembered my decision at 17 not to take my college volleyball scholarship, because I was terrified–terrified I wouldn’t fit in, terrified to live on my own, terrified to move far away from life as I knew it and step out onto unstable ground. Not taking that scholarship is my biggest regret in life.

With misty, tear-filled eyes, I looked directly into the eyes of my daughter–my successful, straight-A, beautiful, dedicated daughter– and told her, “Honey, sometimes you have to do hard things in life to get to the things that are great. You can do this!” It was a moment where my heart was breaking. I wanted to take away her fears and insecurities. I wanted to help her escape this moment with all my being, but I knew this was a moment for her to shine. She wiped away her tears, took a deep breath, and strode off across the grass and introduced herself to the coach. She made me so proud in that moment. She took everything she was and faced her fears head-on.

She is such an example to me. I know that quitting my job was doing that hard thing for me. But I also have faith that great things are going to happen. In the past 5 days since leaving my job, I’ve experienced some beautiful things…all because I’ve been AVAILABLE to see them. Here are a few that come to mind I’d love to share with you:

  • My daughter officially became a member of an elite team last week, and they played in their first tournament over the weekend. Both of her coaches expressed to me that she has “something that I just can’t teach.” I spent the day with her in Park City on Friday, which is something I wouldn’t be able to do if I was at my 9-5 job. And on Sunday, her step-dad, 7 siblings, and I watched as she and her new friends took 2nd place in the tournament. Her smile last weekend is something I wouldn’t miss for the world.
  • Today, I took my 17 year old son to the bank today and showed him how to withdraw money from his account–it seems like such a silly thing, but after landing his first job 2 months ago, he was used to seeing the money going into the account, but he had no idea how to get the money out. He was so proud to withdraw $350 and purchase a new Xbox system. It was like his Christmas for him. And seeing him becoming an adult is like Christmas (in a weird/strange way) for me.
  • Yesterday afternoon, I picked up my other son from his girlfriend’s house–the sun was out, the radio was turned up, and I looked at him and said, “Let’s go get a drink!” This boy loves his Mountain Dew. He beamed, and we rolled down the windows, turned up the tunes, and belted Maroon 5 at the top of our lungs. It was one of those “take a mental picture” moments I’ll never forget!
  • Finally, last night, my husband came home to a clean house, dinner on the table, and he and I and my youngest daughter went outside and played catch as the sun was setting. If I were working full time, NONE of that would have happened. Our nights were typically frantic, dinner at the last minute, and I usually was cleaning up or catching up on laundry each night.

These are the great moments that pay so much more than any job could. The moments that make me the most proud. And these are moments that if I’m not available, will pass by too quickly.

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