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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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Lori Out of Darkness

Have you ever lived your life on auto-pilot? You know that feeling…like when you’re driving down the freeway and your brain disappears into thought for a moment while your eyes focus on the car in front you when you find yourself nearly 5 miles down the highway and you kind of think to yourself Wait! How did I get here so fast? Not in a dangerous sort of checked-out way. Alert and engaged, but not paying close attention to all the details around you.

I think most of us slip into moments like this in our life. It could be in your job. It could be in your friendships. It could even be in your parenting or your marriage. The suck of routines, habits and repetition can get the best of anyone.

There was a time in my life where everything was a bit blurred. I went through the motions of “getting things done” and chalked it all up to “happiness” and “comfort.” I later realized that during that phase, something inside me was slowly dying.

Imagine, if you will, having to wrap up your arm, place it in a sling, and no longer being able to use the arm to do every-day things. You cannot move it. You cannot wash it or care for it. You cannot allow it to see the sunshine. You’re still the same, happy person you always were, but you cannot use your arm. OK. That’s manageable, wouldn’t you say?

Days and weeks go by, and the arm gets weaker. The cells in the arm start to deteriorate, and Atrophy sets in. It’s a slow, gradual process. The arm has been neglected. Your demeanor changes. You’re happiness turns to complacency, because you’re used to having to function under the circumstances. And you feel as though you have no choice, because that is the lot you were dealt.

This is exactly what it feels like when you’re living a life feeling controlled and manipulated by something or someone. It can be an addiction, a parent, a spouse, or even a child. When you’re living in this situation, you go through the motions of life and the color and energy within you is trapped.

But a day can come where you can unwrap, move again, and stand in the sunshine. It starts with believing in yourself and not allowing something or someone to confine you or control you. How can I do that, you ask? Start small:

  1. Pick up a skill, hobby or interest you had in your childhood or when you were happiest. My start began with photography and scrapbooking. I dove straight in and remembered how freaking amazing it felt to do something just for myself. Doing this small thing for yourself will build your confidence in you and your abilities.
  2. Spend time outside! Breathe the air. See the beautiful things around you. Take a walk and allow yourself to dream of a life where you are in control and moving forward. DREAM!
  3. Laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh. If you’re on auto-pilot, chances are that you aren’t laughing very much. Schedule a girls night at your house and eat junk food and wear sweats and dish about your latest awful days, dates or sexy crushes.
  4. Turn up the music! LOUD! For the 2-year period post-divorce, I woke up every day, turned on a music channel on our TV, and blasted music for all of us as we got out of bed and got moving in the mornings–some of them were difficult mornings. I did this more for myself than for my kids. I didn’t realize the impact it had on my kids until the other day, when I turned some music up (loud, of course) in the morning and my youngest said, “We haven’t had music on in the mornings like this for awhile. I remember when we did that in the old house all the time!” She liked that routine and missed it.
  5. Do push ups, or sit ups, or both. I know this sounds lame, but if you do a few every day you will get stronger. You will feel stronger. You will be stronger. And strength within gets a boost when your body is strong.

It’s amazing how these 5 small things will wake you up! You will see with more clarity. You will begin to feed your soul. And most importantly, you will start to live with more purpose and be engaged more.

My life is filled now with laughter, hope, love, and anticipation, and it all began with these 5 things. Opening your eyes doesn’t have to start as the result of a big shift in your life like mine did. That journey can start when you choose to snap out of it and turn off the auto-pilot.

One of my favorite quotes I found after I got divorced is a daily reminder to me that I do not have to settle or tolerate something or someone that is not good for me, and I leave it now with you:

We cannot make the sun shine, but we can remove from that which may cast a shadow on us. ~Rev. C.H. Spurgeon

Remember that your power and energy should go to yourself. Don’t waste it on someone who isn’t worthy of receiving it. Walk away from those things or people that are nothing but darkness. Embrace the light.

 

 

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Over the past few years of my life, I’ve learned to maneuver and grow post-divorce. Some days have been easy. Other days, not so much. Writing, reading, and focusing on myself has given me strength and opened doors for me that I never imagined possible. I’ve met wonderful people, received strength and support, and share my thoughts and life with others as inspiration or simply for an “I’ve been there.”

I did the work. I spoke to a counselor and was sure to look inside so I didn’t repeat the same mistakes moving forward that I did in my childhood and during my first marriage. I’ve read tons about narcissism and NPD personalities, and I’ve now learned how to stand up for myself.

As a child, I tried to please everyone around me. One of those people was my mother. As I grew, I noticed that she eventually began attaching herself to my life more and more. It wasn’t until after my divorce that I had the guts to let her know that I needed her to work on her own life rather than depend so deeply on me for happiness. I wasted many, many years trying to please her and do what I thought she wanted me to do. Dumb.

The concept of the parent who lives through his or her child is familiar to anyone who has stood on the sidelines of a youth soccer or baseball game. The narcissist’s reaction to her child’s life is qualitatively different. It’s not just annexation; it’s the redrawing of the borders to completely absorb the other life into her own. (Huffington Post)

This article from Psychology Today speaks volumes about narcissists and their victims. Sometimes you cannot even try to understand where their brains are, because it’s just not possible. How can a parent try to control her child so much that her child would rather be over at a friends’ house than be at home with her? Why is it that a narcissist tries to take-over and control everyone around them and squashes the real, deep development of the individual?

But, enter the condition of narcissism. What if you married a narcissist who is all about what is good for him or her, rather than what is in the best interest of the children? The narcissist makes unrealistic demands, is not emotionally connected to the children, may be emotionally abusive or worse, but will fight to the end to gain revenge or fight in the interest of his/her own needs. The fight may be economically based, or more likely what is known as a narcissistic injury. That person will never get over or forget that you filed for divorce or abandoned them, and will continue to make life difficult for you and the children. What do you do?

To reiterate, if you marry a narcissist and then divorce that person, the narcissist will not forgive and forget. They do not move on easily. They cling to “how could you abandon me or do this to me” and the anger lingers for long periods of time, sometimes years and years. To imagine that one could process through an amicable divorce with a narcissist and stay friends and co-parent in a reasonable manner is not realistic with narcissists. They do things such as excessively disparage the other parent, resort to making up unfair and untrue allegations, and do not want to financially support the children because that somehow means to them that they are giving money to their ex-spouse. Their entitlement needs get in the way of fairly dividing property and money and in the end they do not think of what is best for the child or children. They think about what is best for them! “It is my parenting time!” “You cannot have sporting events on my time!” “Your mother (or father) is taking all my money.” (Psychology Today)

If you are dealing with a high conflict individual in your life, don’t try to understand them. You won’t. But you can get educated! Spend time reading. Spend time learning. Surround yourself with support. Most of all, understand the disease. Because, as Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

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During the first 3-or-so years post divorce, I found myself trying to keep everyone happy. My kids had issues with their dad, their dad would get mad at me and blame me if they were rude to him or voiced how they didn’t want to go to his house, the list goes on. He’d say I was turning them against him.

I found myself more in the position of mediator than mother/ex. I’d try to help my kids understand that their father wanted to see them, but they would reply with a, “That’s not fair! So-and-so invited me over tonight!” And so the battle would begin.

I took on the negotiator role–trying to make it a win-win for all parties. All that caused was more stress, more pain, and more problems for me. All of them were being heard, but I dreaded any time an argument would come up between one of them and their dad. I was stuck in the middle and a pawn in a vicious, frustrating game.

I learned a lot of lessons along the way. When my kids were younger, I supported more. I stepped in more to help with the communications with their father when he was being demanding in his “my way or the highway” style. They wanted me to back them and he wanted me to jump every time he said to. (Please note that when a decree says something, it doesn’t mean that you have to do it exactly HIS way. You just have to do what the decree says.)

The day has come where I’ve turned the kids’ relationship with their father over to them. I can’t force a 17 year old who is bigger than me to get in my car and go see his dad during the specific court ordered days. Hell, I’m lucky if he has time to squeeze me into his schedule!  But I always allow him to go when he gets an idea to spend the night up there, out of the blue. And if my 11 year old is broken hearted because she realized her dad has lied to her, I don’t defend him any longer and make up excuses for him. I simply tell her, “I’m sorry” and that she needs to reach out to her dad.

Just because some of us were once married to a narcissist and did everything his way, when and how he said, does not mean we have to continue to do it his way. Nor do we have to make his kids do it exactly his way. Now, try getting the NPD personality to accept that–that’s like moving the great pyramids of Egypt. Ain’t likely!

I know it may be difficult as a mother with young children to step back and not get caught up in the game your ex plays when he throws the kids smack dab in the middle of his manipulation. And your role now is important–first and foremost to look out for them and be an advocate for them. But as they grow, remember, you are a mother, not a mediator. Give your kids the confidence to speak their true feelings and not be afraid of people. Remind them that sharing how they feel about something is justified and human. They don’t have to put up with put downs, and it’s okay to tell a parent how they feel.

if a parent can’t respect that in them, that’s their problem.

 

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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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