Just listen

Without judgement and from my heart….

I recently dated someone who ended up in a relationship with a married woman. …because you know, her husband is a total ‘ass’ so she is seeking her solace outside of her marriage. Not in counseling, or in a divorce, or in honesty but in an affair. The man I dated, I don’t know wtf he is thinking and it’s not my concern but it is so heavy on my heart. There are countless unmarried people…so help me understand the why. (Don’t really help me, I know the general why’s and none of them are good)

Then, recently,someone who was very dear to me flirted endlessly and felt justified doing so because they are in a horrible, sexless, loveless marriage. This is sad, I totally get it. Again, get to a counselor, talk to God, talk to your friends, divorce…just stop the cheating because I promise, nothing good will come of it and I certainly am not going to play that game.

BTW, hitting on me and offering sex to me is not generally the way to my heart and if you are in a relationship, I feel like you are a predator and I am the prey. This is especially not the way to my heart. It makes me feel dirty and I hate feeling that way.

This stuff just makes me sick to my stomach and if I could encourage one person to make a better choice, I will. If you are already in the middle of infidelity, it happens. It’s also a great opportunity to seek help and get honest…especially with yourself.

Also, I’m not speaking to those who choose open relationships, I’m speaking to those where it’s a super secret.

Lots of love, I promise. Just not a pretty topic.

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The Bakery Experience

Did you know that a doughnut experience or bar is a really trendy thing to do at weddings right now?  I love it!  I especially love it since it goes right along with my current train of thought.

I’ve been thinking so much about doughnuts (and not just because I have had no more than two bites of a doughnut since last April!).  My ex husband and I had a delightful conversation about donuts a couple of weeks ago and this analogy has been spinning around in my brain since then.

So…let’s take a little trip to the corner bakery shop.  (Remember that childhood song; “Well, I walked around the corner and I walked around the block, and I walked right in to a bakery shop…and I picked up a doughnut and I wiped off the grease…and I handed the lady a 5 cent piece.  Well…she looked at the nickel and she looked at me, and she said, “kind sir, can’t you plainly see?”  There’s a hole in the nickel, there’s a whole right through.  Said I, there’s a hole in the doughnut too!)  This is apparently the world’s best song, so says my brain as it hears it for the billionth time!

There is every kind of doughnut imaginable.  Iced, sprinkled, coconut flakes, powdered sugar, cookie bit toppings, even one with bacon bits.  I’m a pretty simple lady.  I just want something comforting, traditional and of course, absolutely delicious.

Countless doughnuts are before me, their tempting aromas floating through the air.  I choose what I imagine will be the most wonderful doughnut of all.  It was just set out on the cooling rack.  Warm and sticky to the touch, but not hot.  I pick it up, inhaling it’s sweet scent as I bring it closer to my lips.  My tummy rumbles and my mouth waters, I have not tasted a confection treat like this for a full year.

This particular doughnut (because it’s my chosen doughnut), is  softly round, gently iced with freshly made chocolate icing, perfectly heated and so melty that it will dissolve in my mouth.  Oh!  It is wonderful to look at, arouses my senses when I think about how exquisite it is going to be to eat every last bite of it.

I lick my lips and bring the object of desire close, I open my mouth and take the first bite.  Savoring every nibble;  I am pleased that this doughnut is every bit as magnificent as I’d hoped.  I’ve eaten about 1/2 of it when I begin to feel it’s sticky sugars coat my teeth and the roof of my mouth. I need a napkin because even though I have licked the icing off my fingers, they are still sticky.   I am quite thirsty.

Unfortunately, the water at the doughnut shop has been shut off and they are out of milk and juice.  I ask for coffee.  There is no coffee.  So, I sit down at the lone booth, all of a sudden aware that there is no one in the bakery shop other than the man serving donuts.  My thirst grows and my mouth feels pasty.  Where is the doughnut guy anyway?  It seems I am my only company.

I look at the doughnut remains in my hand, looking drastically less appetizing than before.  I am a little bit bored and unfocused…so I finish it off; not enjoying the last 1/2 nearly as much as the first.  Still, no one is here.  I am a little lonely.  Actually, my stomach kind of aches.  I don’t know if it was the sugar or something else.  I kind of wish I would’ve stopped after just a taste.  I feel bitterness rise in my throat.  I haven’t experienced acid reflux since I stopped eating sugar and now look…one little doughnut.  Why did I choose this when I knew what it would do to me?

I am alone in the bakery.  I see that the counters are a 60’s kind of bright yellow and the room all of a sudden feels too bright.  My stomach is bloated at the top and I need something to quench my thirst.  Where are the people?  My feelings of loneliness increase and I’m overcome with the feeling that I can’t leave fast enough.

I place a dollar bill on the table, in case the guy comes back and I walk out.  I feel the breeze on my skin, a little colder than when I came in.  The sun is out but it’s not warm enough.  I am reminded of the  way life used to be when I consistently chose the doughnut.  I am uncomfortable in my own skin and wish I could have a re-do.

Friends!!!

This is me talking about my dating life right now.  Let me break this down.

Physicality in a relationship…that’s the doughnut.  It’s sooooo yummy!  It’s soooooo fantastically good to a woman who loves feeling desired, giving, being close, being told she’s beautiful, ALL of the good stuff.  It’s enjoyable, phenomenal, pleasurable and fun!

The point is, the doughnut is super sweet in the beginning.  It is scintillating, intoxicating, forbidden yumminess!  Let’s be honest…kisses are fabulous, snuggles are warm, our insides are gooey goodness.  It’s all incredibly hard to resist. In spite of all this, it might be best to not indulge in the doughnut; or at least give some thought and intention before that first bite. Once you have a nibble, the cravings set in.

But, if that is all there is…the doughnut…I’m left with nothing but reminders of what I don’t have that I once (kind of) had.  I tell myself, no more doughnuts.  No more donuts!  NO MORE DOUGHNUTS!

I eat the doughnut anyway.  I get angry with myself because it was just a doughnut.  My hunger is not satisfied, I am thirsty still and I am alone.

Doughnuts aren’t bad.  Doughnuts are very, very good. They should just be ingested with a generous dose of awareness and wisdom.  There’s good stuff in that doughnut song.  There is a reason there is a hole in the doughnut.  The doughnut alone isn’t enough.  At least in my life, for me, for now.

Picture that same warm out of the oven, sticky, perfectly iced, soft doughnut.  Instead of an empty coffee shop, I am in line with many others.  I don’t really see them though, because my attention is focused on the one special person who I walked hand in hand here with.

We order a doughnut to share, because neither of us eat much sugar.  (Okay…that’s too much of a fantasy, we each get our own doughnut!) He quietly pays for our purchase and for the family behind us.  I admire and respect his heart and consider that he is worth everything I have been through to get to him.  I know he looks at me the same.

Also, we have coffee with real cream.  We sit down with our doughnuts.  The conversation is easy and the laughter is abundant.  This guy.  He is yummy, he is kind, he thinks I am the most beautiful woman in the world.  We both think the doughnut is so much better when it comes with coffee and connection.  We discuss a little bit of the silliness of the doughnuts we enjoyed when we didn’t believed doughnuts were all there were.  There is deep gratitude for the now.

We agree, this is how it’s been for us…

Only the doughnut….  It’s sugary and temporarily satisfying.  But then what?  (Again, if one is in a place of only wanting the doughnut, enjoy the doughnut!)

Then, there is the whole bakery experience. Enjoying the doughnut with someone who savors it with you; someone who takes you to the bakery shop and sits with you; sips coffee; kisses and conversation are never ending.  Maybe even read the paper (or a little Anais Nin and Henry Miller to each other).

Doughnuts vs. The Bakery Shop…my preferences are a changing.

 

 

 

TRANSITIONING DESIRES

I NOW WANT

IN THE PAST, I’VE BEEN ATTRACTED TO

LOYAL NAUGHTY; REBELLIOUS
TRUSTWORTHY LACK OF HEALTHY EMOTION
POETIC/PASSIONATE TALL
INTELLIGENT/EDUCATED THIN
SPIRITUAL FUNNY
GIVER NOT TRUSTWORTHY
HILARIOUS INSECURE
WARM/JOYFUL NOT SPIRITUAL
KIND LIVES BELOW ABILITIES
OUTGOING SELFISH/ME FIRST
TEDDY BEAR OF A GUY UNSTABLE FAMILY
TALL POOR BOUNDARIES
THOUGHTFUL LACK OF RESPECT FOR SELF/OTHERS
COMPASSIONATE NO SPOILING ME
LOVING, ENGAGED W/ FAMILY RIGID
SOCIALLY AWARE BLACK AND WHITE
MORAL COMPASS IRRITABLE
INTEGRITY GRUMPY ASSHOLES
REALITY OVER PORN THEY ‘NEED’ ME
CONSISTENT W/ EMOTIONS ANGER IS DOMINANT EMOTION
SPOILS ME SOLEMN
SPONTANEOUS SECRETIVE
SMELLS YUMMY DISHONEST
PATIENT WITHDRAWN
CAN HANDLE EMOTIONS PORN OVER REALITY
UNDERSTANDING I AM NOT A PRIORITY
ROMANTIC MAJOR POWER IMBALANCE
ATTENTIVE NOT IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL
LOVES MY FAMILY NOT AS SOCIAL
OPEN STRUGGLES WITH AUTHORITY
RESILIENT SUBSTANCE ABUSE/SOME DRUG OF CHOICE
TWINKLY EYED & SWEETLY MISCHEVIOUS  LACK OF PASSION/DRIVE

I created this list on a whim about a year ago.  A friend challenged me to write down what I want in a partner and then write what I tend to choose.  I was not to think about it and just wrote what was on my heart.  Pretty much the same today.  Lots to ponder.

 

TRY

I wasn’t going to write tonight.  Each time I had started to do so, I came up with nothing but feisty, unkind, passive aggressive wording, yet, here I am.  Thanks to the love, prayers, positive energy and encouragement that surround me, I have decided to try to be brave and share my heart.  Let’s hope I don’t regret it in the morning.

This is not a pretty post.  Not at all.  It’s kind of ugly and I just pray that I keep it about my experience and not someone else’s story.  Whatever.

I am in the middle of learning some tough lessons.  About myself, relationships, the difference between love and lust…so much.  So fucking much.  Lessons that I expect I ‘should’ have down by down at the ripe age of 46.  I guess after being with one man for 23 years, I’m not joking when I say I am like a teenager at times and these growing pains are simply yuck.

My heart aches.  Deeply.  Every time I face rejection from a man, in any aspect, it’s like I bring into it a lifetime of rejection.  It rapidly becomes all about everything I am not rather than about what the situation really is.  Tonight, someone I am particularly fond and who has been precious (in my eyes) ‘defriended’ me on social media.  Really.  So familiar to what I hear my teenagers struggle with at times.  I don’t even know why.  It doesn’t matter.  It stung and started a flood of tears that I can’t seem to stop.

An onslaught of failures, lies and struggles suck me in.  Failed marriage. Poor choices. Less than. Never enough. Won’t happen. Negligent. Disorganized. Scattered. Settled for. Two faced. Fat. Broken. Messed up. Crazy. Damaged. Wounded. Stubborn. Less than, again. Optional. Disposable. Debris. Stupid. Boring. Too much. Not enough, again. Temporary. Unworthy. Plain. Short hair. Gross. Hurting. The list goes on.

Through it all, my mind keeps hearing the words of a dear friends prayer for me, along with a sermon that I have listened to numerous times lately.  It’s all about the story we tell ourselves.  We might tell ourselves something that is not necessarily a lie, but instead a twisted up version of the truth.  It really pinged my heart because I know that I tend to live in the truth of my story instead of the truth of who God really made me to be….especially in regard to my relationships with men.

I am happily confident in my job, work hard in school, and adore my internship.  I am a magnificent friend, the best Momma for my kids and try hard to fill my other roles with all the love, giving, compassion and care that I can give.  Bottom line, I feel ‘good enough’ in these roles for the most part and when I don’t, I make changes accordingly.  That’s one Sarah.  She knows who she is and what she wants.  She believes it is just as important to play hard as it is to work hard; she is not hesitant to go for what she wants.

Then…there is the Sarah who sees herself as disposable.  She is seeking a real and deep love, a true connection with a gentleman that holds truth and freedom in it.  She is looking for the hands that will hold her heart with love, gentleness and protection.  She knows she has much to give BUT….this woman sees herself as a young girl who is overweight, awkward, painfully shy and unwanted.  No matter how she ‘looks’ to others, and despite the way she works on positive changes…she mostly sees herself as someone broken, deeply lacking or undesirable.  This feeling sucks. I know it’s not truth, but it ‘feels’ truthful in the moment and operating from that truth leads to a plethora of poor choices.  Choices that disregard who I am at my core and what I hope for in this life.  Choices that are made out of a fear of being without companionship.  Choices that give a temporary band-aid to lonely feelings but absolutely do not result in long term fulfillment.  Choices that are made because there is gratitude that someone desires me vs. knowing it is a privilege to have time with me.

I’m not speaking to intentional choices I make as a grown woman to participate in relationships that are fun, fulfilling in their own way and not long term.  I am referring specifically to participating in relationships knowing full well that it won’t be what I want it to be, but choosing to believe I can change it to what I desire.  I can BS myself like no other, but don’t worry, I speak the truth to others.  So often that it gets me in trouble…not everyone wants that.

The story that I tell myself is that I will never find the love of my life, so I may as well enjoy whatever the moment offers. I will not ever be ‘the one’ to someone special, so I shall act accordingly.   I’ve already had that, kind of, so God wants me to live the rest of my life alone and serving others.  (I put those words to God, nothing I feel from him). I may as well go for the men who are not going to be long lasting, because in the end, they will leave.  So why choose the ones I will really give my heart to? They too, will leave.  Both will hurt but the latter will hurt far less.  Choose the lesser of two evils, right?  In the process, I am getting hurt and I am hurting others…unintentional as it may be.  All of my protective forces are accomplishing nothing worth mentioning.

Who knows what of this is true and what is not?  I know I am supposed to honor who I believe I am…a brave, worthy, happy, truly loved by God, whimsical, whole and surrendered woman.  That is who I believe I was made to be, yet when I am engaging with men I am willing to trade that in for whatever they need me to be.  That’s got to be better than what I really have to offer, right?  Better even, let me serve as therapist and best friend ever, maybe even as a nurturing mom role.  Ewwww.  But it comes so natural.

A precious friend recently told me that “God made me and his work is always beautiful”.  I love that friend and his heart.  I want to believe his words.  My heart agrees, it is beautiful…my brain taunts me by letting me know I’ll never measure up.  But to who?  How long am I going to let others opinion of me determine how I view myself.  It’s ridiculous.  Real stuff, but ridiculous.

I have a safety plan.  Another dear friend and I have a ‘twenty year plan’.  If neither of us are married at age 60, or in 20 years…we can marry each other.  This is our little funny!  In truth, I freak myself out.  What if I die before then without experiencing the gift of a deep and abiding love with the ‘right’ man.  I know…God’s timing…it’s just so hard for me to trust.

I am tired.  I cannot believe I am ‘here’.  There are new crinkles around my eyes and I see faint wrinkles on the delicate skin of my neck. I can’t seem to keep up with the fastness of passing time.

My precious children…lots of love and hugs from them tonight.  That should be more than sufficient.  Why do I long for anything more?  I just do.  Even in my deep gratitude, there is a constant yearning.

This is my story.  I’m trying to figure out how to live in the truth of who I am…in ALL of the circumstances and with ALL of the people.  I am trying to let go of the story I once helped me survive and embrace the story that is truth.

This is my honesty.

 

 

 

 

 

Rooted in change…then and now

Transformation, alteration, renewal, metamorphosis….constant change is a certainty of this human experience.  Stubborn resistance may root us in place.  Still, the very change that surrounds will also change us.  Why resist?  We are forever becoming.

I was playing a little game with a friend, we were giving each other a number, and we had to share the photo from our phones that matched that number.  He asked to see the 10th picture of only me.

The 10th picture of only me sent me spinning with shame and embarrassment.  I could not show him this one.  However, I promised…no cheating.  Before sending the photo, I let him know that this was taken at one of the worst times of my life.  My ex-husband had just told me he no longer loved me and wanted a divorce; my precious daddy was dying after a 12 year battle with Alzheimer’s.  The picture (which is here for all the world to see) was a clear image of a lady who had no love for herself and her eyes held a deep sadness, despite the smile on her face. The only reason I share it is because I am trying to practice what I preach…vulnerability and transparency. In this moment, I also share in hopes of diminishing the pier of shame this photo holds.

This precious friend heard my shame and replied with, ‘it’s just a selfie, look at your smile’.  Then he made me laugh with a gentle joke about chipmunk cheeks.  I never thought I’d giggle looking at that picture, but I did, and it was genuine.  However, I have obsessed over that picture since.  It’s not just that I hadn’t realized how much I changed, it brought back a rush of painful memories.

I remember the day the man who was the only love I’d ever known told me he was leaving.  I was inundated with feelings of unworthiness, disposability and fear.  For some reason, I made a little video on my phone to myself.  I guess to commemorate the day.  I very clearly stated (to myself) that I wanted to learn to love myself, no matter who else loved or didn’t love me.  That my friends, is the journey of transformation I have been and am still on.

My timehop today reminded me that at this time last year, I had lost 20 pounds on Weight Watchers.  I then stopped Weight Watchers, and started doing my own thing.  It’s called the ‘keto’ish but not all the way because life is too short to not enjoy ice cream” diet.  Clean eating pretty much, low carb, very low sugar and almost no processed foods.  In doing this, I have lost another 28 pounds.  This makes 48 pounds gone!  I should be so proud.

Rather, my first reaction was “wow!, but I have so long to go.”  I began a laundry list of all the men who would like me better if I had a better body, and of how life would be different if my ass matched my sass!  (Borrowed from a favorite meme).  Somehow, I stopped myself in the middle of my negative recitation.  I wondered to myself, “what will it take for me to be good enough?”

I asked myself what I wanted.  Easy.  I want to love myself.  As is.  I want to believe I am enough and honor that deeply, no matter where I am on my journey.  I want to be excited about the work I am doing for ME while enjoying who I am right in this moment.

I want to practice gratitude, for I have so much to be grateful for.  I am here, breathing.  I am a miracle, just as we all are.  Life is the celebration!  I have two legs that are strong and lovely, and they get me where I want to go.  The gift of walking was taken away from me in 2009 and I had to relearn that skill at the age of 35.  How dare I fuss that I am not enough?  My heart is strong; it is full of love, life and laughter.  I can easily exercise on the elliptical for 35 minutes without rest.  I might not be the most graceful, but I am me and I am a masterpiece.  There is no one like me, ever, anywhere.  I am blessed in every way, I want to remember this every second of every moment of every day.

I want to realize that when someone asks me out on a date, they are every bit as lucky to have time with me as I am to have time with them.  It is not settling to be with me, it is a gift, for I am pretty damn cool.  I want to stand in this truth.  It changes my choices, it changes everything.

I want to show my kiddos who I am at my core and that we are ALL capable and worthy of beautiful, positive, transformation…their Momma included.

There is so much joy in the transformation these days…one day the pain will be nothing but a motivator for better.

 

Dating sucks…or maybe it’s me

The first man…he prefers a woman with long hair.  Mine is on the shortish side and even when it’s long, it’s soft and baby fine.  He tells me he longs for a woman with a tight, thin body as I sit next to him thinking that no matter how hard I work out and how much weight I lose….my body will still have carried two babies and is marked with scars that mean life to me.  My breasts are small, my booty flat and my tummy round. I want to hide myself but there is nowhere to hide…so I distract him with humor or kissing or listening or whatever the situation calls for and I hope he cannot feel how much I have adored him and how sad I feel in this moment.

The second man doesn’t understand how an intelligent girl like me can believe in a pie in the sky mythical being.  How can someone who thinks for herself and is smart claim God and faith as her foundation.  He does not have a clue what I’ve been through and really has no interest in knowing. He might never grasp that all I wanted was to show him respect for his path and how deeply I hoped he could respect my own path.  He is not going to go deep into the topic.  The walls are palpable.  I can get up and leave or I can dive out of the discomfort and into his body.  I choose the latter.

Third guy…we have met in person, because we were at the same place at the same time.  We bumped into each other again on a dating site.  I had heard he thought I was flirting with him.  He was beautiful to look at yet I had been doing nothing but being my normal playful self.  He also knew he was hot…he just had that air about him.  We chatted a bit….teased about the flirting comment.  Before I know it, he is inviting me to be a friend with benefits.  If I just wanted eye candy, that may have served me well.  Friends with benefits I am not searching for, that’s been an easy come easy go disaster.  He still pops up with an out of the blue text now and then.  Just not gonna happen.

Last guy, he is a dear old friend going through a divorce.  He thinks it would be a great idea to ‘get together’ and he has been very explicit about what that might look like.  I know the depth of his loneliness and my heart aches for him.  I am not interested in being a distraction from his pain in that manner.  Gotta appreciate his asking though…I guess.

Just a teeny sampling of dating life as it is right now.  I’m feeling pretty down and out tonight.  I did something horribly stupid to someone I value greatly and I probably won’t be forgiven.  It is what it is. 

I am beginning to see that I have a habit of sabotaging something with great possibility before it has a chance to happen.  Just in case it doesn’t.  Guess what?  I am the one hurting and sitting in the shit I created.  Again.

I did this to someone dear that I dated a few months ago.  He cherished me.  Adored me.  Treated me like a gentleman treats a lady.  He is also the only person that I have been 100% myself with from the beginning.  He appreciated my intelligence.  He encouraged my feminine energies.  He laughed at my jokes and truly thought I was beautiful just the way I was.  He traced my scars (both the physical and emotional) and said they were lovely reminders of the preciousness of life.  He was kind.  I messed that up by doing something very hurtful and although I know we are not each other’s long time person, I am incredibly thankful for the experience and forever sorry for my actions.  He gave me a glimpse of what I deserve and that it is possible.

So…why, why, why do I feel more comfortable seeking out the men who I know are going to give me crumbs; see me as their back up, or just plain use me?  In saying this, please realize I am no victim of anything here.  With the exception of one toxic relationship, I have knowingly and willingly walked straight into, or even instigated, these types of relationships.

I seem to have a radar that tracks these men, specifically.  The ones who won’t last…and although I know this, I begin the process of wondering if it can work and how it will look.  EVEN THOUGH my head and heart both know better.

Lots of tears, guilt, shame and deep thoughts today.  I’m really trying to identify my own actions and behaviors that are a detriment to me.  I could blame others all day long but that’s useless…in the end, my unhealed stuff is what hurts me most.

A hot truth smacked me in the face this afternoon.  With the exception of the one dating relationship (that very healthy one where I was absolutely cherished), there is not one person with whom I have been purely me.

This only applies to dating relationships. I don’t do this in other areas. I think I so deeply want to be accepted and loved and I’m certain no one wants me for messy me.  This feels a little like desperation and the feeling makes me sick to my stomach and doesn’t at all line up with my desire to live authentically.  I’m still trying to figure out who I am as a single woman, not as wife and mom.

I have contorted myself all kinds of ways just to make sure I keep the attention or approval of some guy.  “Two-faced” would be painfully accurate here and getting this understanding feels like a punch in the gut.

Just in case there’s not ever a man who doesn’t think I am broken, I am striving to make sure I am going to be thin enough, pretty enough, sexual enough, fun enough, smart enough etc to please them. So far, save one precious soul, I have not been enough.

I mean…I’ve been enough to be a friend with benefits (again, my choice to walk into), but not enough to enter into something healthy with.  And those ugly tapes are loud.  If I were thinner, richer, louder, bigger boobed, not shy, blue eyed…whatever fits.  I type and I ask myself how in the world I could expect someone to cherish the real me when I have turned myself inside out to be someone else for them.

I feel so sad and ashamed. Desperate.  Icky.  A little unhopeful and maybe even a little scared.

Also, I feel that the way I’ve behaved at times, someone is going to not get my heart and instead view me as the crazy chick. Since I was raised by a mentally ill person, that terrifies me.

A wise person just asked me two hard questions.  “How would life look if I decided that I was not somebody who had to be settled for?” and “How would my dating life look if I decided you weren’t going to settle for anybody who didn’t want me exactly as I am?” .

I have often said I will not settle (I call bullshit on myself).  Never have I considered this perspective.  I absolutely believe if someone is dating me they must be settling for me.  That helps me rationalize that when someone better comes along, they will move on and that is to be expected.

Settle for someone who didn’t want me exactly as I am?  What else would I do?  I can be an expert chameleon as long as it means I am pleasing someone.  It is horribly yuck to admit that.

“Becoming all God sees you as begins with the courage to let go of all He doesn’t”…my list of the doesn’t(s) feels everlasting.  I’m so tired of putting myself in situations where I feel less than.  I do it.  I choose the opposite of what I desire because I know I will get that.  Ewww.

My heart hurts.  Learning to fully love myself is so super hard when I am trying to be someone else that ‘he’ might like better.

There’s got to be something better than this.

Loving me isn’t easy…

So…for dinner tonight we had our traditional Irish meal of freshly baked Irish soda bread, Corned beef with cabbage and potatoes and cherry cheesecake (because the one of the young leprechauns asked for it).
We aren’t Irish at all (I don’t think) but the preschool teacher inside of me will always enjoy these themed days.
Also, I should correct this to say “for dinner, I prepared” rather than “for dinner we had”.
We are a family of differing dietary preferences.  Stella enjoyed Irish soda bread with vegan chicken nuggets and cabbage (and made her own butterbeer floats for dessert). John had beef with potatoes and cheese on top, and of course bread…and I enjoyed a nibble of each.   He will probably have no problem finishing the cheesecake by himself…Stella won’t eat things containing gelatin (did you know it is made of animal bone marrow?) and it’s not on my diet…but it was fun to make.
I almost did not make this meal; the days of green eggs and ham are over and I know all about everyone’s individual needs.  Also, everytime we are around a holiday that was once celebrated as a family tradition (before divorce days), it’s a challenge for me to still celebrate.  It’s all about making a new normal, letting go of the old and building the new.  It’s hard work.
This season feels like it’s one of transition, and I must constantly tell myself to just hang in there.  Typing that out doesn’t even seem accurate.  Life, it’s all about transition and change but these days, it just feels very in my face.  I’m facing some old demons and really being given the opportunity to see who and what I am.  Simultaneously, there are new adventures and a bundle of fun.  I wonder if this is how my teenagers so often feel.
At the end of this month, my current work position will end and a new one will begin in April.  That seems like a good flow.  April is my favorite month, a time of new beginnings symbolically in now, in reality too.  My internship is getting busier and I really can’t believe that I will soon be a ‘real’ therapist.  It kind of freaks me out and I just pray that I continue to trust I’m equipped for this and step all the way into my gifts.  This part…it’s not about me.  It’s about so much more.  I can’t even express right now how grateful I am to be at this part of the journey.  My kiddos…I am catching on.  They really love each other but love looks different with teen siblings!
While this is all commencing, I am working on being the best me I can be.  I have a plethora of negative cognitions that I am trying to understand and reframe.  Why?  Because what once served to protect and serve me is now a futile energy force.  An example…
Recently, one of my dear sisters commented on how my body was so much smaller.  I immediately ‘phhhh’ed’ her and let her know I hated how slow my progress was.  She asked how much weight I had lost.  I told her I didn’t know bc  I was choosing to stay away from the scale, because it had way too much power over me.  (I keep intending to take measurements but haven’t done that yet.)  You know,  “I’ve looked at many before after photos of people who had lost weight and worked out…their scale said the same number but their bodies were completely different.”   She got exactly what I was saying….I don’t know if it’s a girl thing or a sister thing or whatever, but it’s nice to be ‘gotten’.
I didn’t (at that point) have a clue what my weight was.  I hadn’t weighed on a scale in six weeks.  What I did know…my jeans fall off of me without a belt; I’ve worked out every day for nearly 3 weeks; my energy is steady throughout the day and my skin looks good (except for a few breakouts).  That should’ve been sufficient, yes?
Nope.
I got right on that scale as soon as I got home from my sister’s house.  Guess what?  The flipping number is .07 more than it was the last time I weighed.  Guess what else?  This number sent my brain into tailspin mode. You see, it’s not just a number on the scale to me.  It’s a loud voice screaming inside my head that I will never be ‘hot’, it doesn’t matter, I should continue to seek out men who aren’t best for me because girls like me settle, etc, etc.  Ugly fucking thoughts that erased every positive thing I have noticed in the moments (hours) I spent going down that path.
It has taken me two days to begin to get into a better mode of thinking about myself.  There is so much negativity tied in a bundle for me around body image.  I am so thankful that I have strong legs, a healthy heart, a never ending ability to think and learn and so much more.  I hate that I get wrapped up in superficial shit, but I’m human, and I do.
It was not until Stella (my 14 year old daughter) was in the bedroom and she overheard me talking to myself in the mirror.  I don’t know my exact words but I know they were defeating and probably included the use of F-A-T.  She zipped into my closet and stood there with her hand on her hip; “Mom!  What do you think you are teaching me is important right now?”  There was no squirming away from the discomfort of her question.
How can I tell my children how very important self-love is and at the same time, demonstrate self-hatred at any level? I can’t, and it sucks.  Either I say what I mean and mean what I say or I don’t.
I’ve got work to do. It’s part of the transition. Maybe transformation is a better word. I don’t want to carry negativity forward.
Digging deep and learning what all of this is really about matters. There is certainly a part of me that feels more comfortable holding on to my image of a very pure, very good girl, and that girl is always wearing a mask.  Part of her mask is a cushy body.  There is another part of me that is very much enjoying my femininity, my sexuality and womanhood.  For some reason, I have it set up in my mind that she must look very different than me.  “She” must be in supreme shape in order to be worthy of those things.
I am trying to consolidate (still) that I can be very pure hearted, very good hearted, very God loving AND very authentic, womanly, sexy AND enjoy every minute of who she is.
I dream of a love story that I’ve yet to experience…it’s the one where I love myself deeply so that I can love others better.  People say loving me is easy…I am trying to find that truth for myself.

Status Single

If I were to be interviewed tonight regarding my thoughts on dating, men and myself, I might be banned from opening my mouth again. Or maybe my words would reverberate a familiar tune to those walking a similar path.

There is a linguistic dance party in my brain and the words all seem to be dancing to a different tune.

I have been officially divorced for about a year and a half. I was legally separated for about a year and a half before that. To clarify, this was a first divorce after an 18 year first marriage (23 years together). I had never planned on a divorce and I am not sure what I think about another marriage. I do know that I never want another divorce. Ever.

The only reason I share this is to say that other than my ex-husband, I really had no experience dating. I had experience partying in college, but I am not of the opinion that this is the same as grown up dating. Furthermore, after an 18 year marriage, I came out knowing (mostly) how to be a wife…not how to date. Vast differences.

I find the quote in my picture quite funny. Although, in all honesty, I sleep on one side of the bed always. My side. It’s been “my side” for over half my life. I guess I’m still saving a spot for someone. I also stand under only one of my two shower heads when I shower, though I turn them both on. Again…Saving a spot. Oh the subtle ways we humans express the unspoken and maybe even unrealized is intriguing. Ironic.

I thought I wanted to date soon after our separation. My first ‘date’ was with a dear, dear long time friend. We had a lovely evening of wine, music and deep conversation. He kissed me…twice. The first time I cried. The second time I laughed uncontrollably. These were not the lips I had kissed for the last 23 years and I felt like a cheater. I have apologized to him a multitude of times.

If I remembered how to contact them, I would apologize to the men that took me out during that 3 or 4 month period of time. I would tell them that I was sorry for talking about nothing but my dissolved marriage and my children and to please not take it personal that I couldn’t wait to dash out the door after dinner. Oh…and that I appreciated them offering to walk me to my car but the thought of them trying to kiss me made me vomit in my mouth (but not to take it personal).

Obviously, I wasn’t ready to date. It just took a few dates to let that solidify.

Fast forward to post official divorce and I was in a different place. I was actually ready to explore the world of men (whom I found terrifying). Online dating was my means of exploration. I started, tentatively, soon after the papers were signed. It was not long before I went out for drinks with a really nice guy. One thing led to another and the date lasted until morning. I woke up, and I wanted him to leave. There was an obligatory kiss goodbye, a few nice little follow up texts and I’ve not spoken to him since. I think of him figuratively as the guy who broke the seal. Nothing less, nothing more.

Initially, overwhelmed with guilt, I immediately went to my best friend’s house and told her all about it. I can’t remember…I think I cried at her house that morning.

I had moved one step further away from my broken marriage and I knew it.

There was such a sense of freedom, even among the sadness. I had no regrets.

Soon after, I met the man with whom I would spend the next 9 months. I thought I loved him. I did love him. We experienced things together that I had never experienced. It was exhilarating, until it wasn’t. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a very wounded soul who would’ve destroyed me had I not gotten out when I did.

I’m thankful for my time with him…it grew me up immensely in a short amount of time. There is a broken piece inside of me that still misses him at times, but I know better than to ever delve back into that world.

I had one other relationship for about 3 months. This one was with a super special gentleman that I wronged in the end. I will always treasure those three months and hope that he finds the love of his life because he is incredibly deserving.

Lesson learned…there are titanic size differences in boys and men and age does not define manhood.

Intermittently, I have dated men that I have met online. There have been some fabulous friends made, many first dates, a few that I dated several weeks, a couple of disappearing acts and yes, one or two ickies.

I’ve listened to more Matthew Hussey and Single Smart podcasts than anyone ever should, really!

I have learned terms I never knew I’d need to know during this process.

I’ve been “breadcrumbed” And “benched”, maybe even “cushioned”. The trouble is, sometimes it takes me longer than I’d like to understand this is the case (games suck). I’ve “ghosted” (only once bc he freaked me out) and I’ve been ghosted. “Micro-cheating” feels macro and isn’t cool. “Love bombing” is real. “FWB” is fun’ish until it’s not. “Hi” is supposed to open the doors to a world of fascinating goodness but never feels sufficient.

Some people are able to convey a much broader range of emotions through emojis than they’d ever express in word and deed. For real. 😉🤔🙄😜😇😈💋🔥❤️ and I won’t even get started on the produce emojis!

Here’s a great little link if you’d rather read than experience the terms. (Or perhaps you’ll choose both. I got ya!😉) https://bestlifeonline.com/online-dating-terms-older-people-dont-know/

A bit of personal wisdom I’ve collected through my “research”…

  1. The dating culture online is fast moving and it’s not uncommon to get ‘real familiar’ with each other quickly. I think it’s something about the false safety of technology.
  2. Kissing is superfun and men are supercool. Seriously, I like them way more than I ever knew…not so terrifying after all. Also, a kiss can just be a kiss. It is not a covenant. Seriously.
  3. The range of wants is on a spectrum. Imagine one end is raw, uninhibited sex for a couple of hours and the other is deep, intimate connection for a lifetime. EVERYTHING FALLS IN BETWEEN . I must be clear about what I want in any given situation. Even better if the other party is clear you. I am learning all about what I want through an experiential training in my own life. Honestly, it’s often confusing and I don’t know what to do but feel it out and absorb the experience.
  4. Some can be intensely overwhelming the first few interactions…block them. As a matter of fact, block anyone who gives you any sense of the heebie jeebies, without regrets. No fixer uppers needed.
  5. Dating can be fun. It can also be exhausting and feel like being on a continual interview. Take a break when a break is needed and enjoy it fully when that’s what is needed.
  6. Dignity, honesty, respect, safety, boundaries, and a sense of humor…absolute necessities in my world.
  7. It’s lovely to be treated like a lady and it’s just as lovely to enjoy the company of a gentleman. I love my girlfriends but it’s simply not the same. Men smell good (hopefully), they feel good and they are just enjoyable to be around in a different way.
  8. I am a little bit old fashioned in some ways and a little bit ahead of my time in others. That’s okay. Just gotta be me.
  9. Someone does not have to be evil to not be good for me.
  10. I don’t have to be evil not to be good for someone else.

I told my best friend today, I would love to just date one person but I don’t really want a relationship yet. She asked exactly what I meant. I let her know that I wanted one someone to do fun things with; talk deeply with; someone to take me out; someone to kiss and snuggle and all the other stuff. She asked how this was not a relationship. Why? Simply because I said so.

I let another close friend know pretty much the same thing the other day. But I added that I wanted to be seen and appreciated for who I was; I wanted to see and appreciate the other person for who they are and I wanted to really love and cherish each other.

Currently, some part of me still goes toward and connects to those who likely won’t be my long term partner. I seem to unconsciously be drawn to the men that fit lots of my criteria but not the part that includes love and cherish in the intimate, forever sense. It’s tough…commitment is fleeting and vulnerability is rare.

In this arena; A grown up kid enjoying the playground and also knowing she yearns for her own “When Harry Met Sally” kind of everlasting love….that is me.

Until then…The journey is mine to embrace. Me learning to love myself fully is my assignment.

That’s a lot.❤️

Oh Alice

Recently, there must’ve been seemingly cryptic posts on my social media; truly, that wasn’t the intention.  As a result, I received two separate phone calls from two dear friends, neither of who knows the other.  One of them referred to the “I, I, I”  context of my posts and my reaction was immediate defense.  I know this friend’s beautiful heart is intent on doing the will of God and I was throwing up my walls against a lecture that perceived me in a way I wasn’t meaning. Being intently aware of this defense, I reminded myself that this friend was safe and that I could keep my heart open and listen.  I’m super thankful that I did, for as I spilled my heart out about the goings on in my life, he had great experience of his own to share and much wisdom to offer.

The second call was a precious friend who had some heartfelt observations to share with me.  First, he thought that I must be in a deeply introspective mood (true and positive), and that many of my introspections were self-deprecating.  (true and ouch).  He told me that he had never once heard me speak of the good things I was doing.  (i.e., I speak of my wonderful children, I do not speak of the wonderful mom that I am to them or the sacrifices I make to be that great mom).  I am still reflecting on this.  I like to be humble.  Even voicing that I like to be humble makes me feel like I may as well say, “Look at me!  I am soooo humble!”  That just defeats the whole purpose.  I did share with a few people recently that my grad school grades were really awesome.  I didn’t share what it took on my behalf for that to happen.

I’m still not sure about all of this.  Growing up with a constant verbalized message of, “children should be seen and not heard”, I think I have internalized that to “Sarah should be seen and not heard” in many significant ways.

Look at this!  Two friends that I trust see me ponderings through totally different lenses.  One is the “I” of me and the other is kind of the invisible “I”.  This is likely one of my favorite internal conflicts.  Shrink or stand tall?  Oh Alice.

Mosaic Masterpiece

This post doesn’t want to happen.  This post is resisting moving from head to heart in every way.  This post knows it contains some deep potential for growth.  Hands on the keyboard, my fingers tap out whatever is inside of me, initially unedited.  I am assured that this is a post that must be written.  It is difficult to know where to begin when one is spinning in a multitude of directions.  Gut, heart and brain are in the midst of great conflict and soul keeps saying, “keep going, keep going, keep going”.  The internal struggle isn’t new. What’s new, is is being able to grasp that not being exactly where I want to be is okay, I just am where I am.  Honestly, sometimes that pisses me off, but that’s all part of being where I’m supposed to be too.

A memory that I had written one year ago today popped up on my Facebook timeline.  No accidents, God’s timing deserves a mic drop, again.

“There is an adventurous 19 year old girl inside of me that really just wants to come out and play.  There is also a 45 year old wounded but wise grown up in me who speaks a tiny bit louder that that frivolous 19 year old girl.  There is always that “good girl” mentality deep in my heart, even when I am trying to drown her out.  Honestly, she’s a little ‘over-concerned’ with image.  The thing is, they’ve all been struggling and arguing and have finally decided that they can meet in the middle and explore life.  I wonder what this is going to look like?”

A year later…what does it look like? Here’s what I’ve come to learn in the past year about Sarah, the woman.  She delights in being playful, yet she craves deep connection and reverent solitude too.  She still has wounds, old and new.  The martini glass looking patch over the hole in her heart is something that makes her acutely familiar with the healing process.  She knows that sealing some old wounds with healthy protection is the best way to heal.  She sometimes forgets that this is a very rare situation, because generally, the best path to healing is to stay open, yielding and aware rather than placing a seal over a wound.  Besides, although she can’t see that martini glass patch without special examination, she still knows it is there.   She is strong, and she is fragile.

She has pieces of every experience of every age inside of her…from birth to right now, a 46 year old woman.  She is a mosaic.  She spends a good amount of time trying to figure out how all of those pieces fit together to create the masterpiece God made her to be. (This would suggest she still has trouble believing that she already is God’s masterpiece).  She still goes to that good girl mentality in an instant, especially when she is afraid she has hurt another.  She finds herself slowly transitioning more to who she was made to be and in the midst of that, she fights to separate from living as some other human created her to be.  This is one of the most difficult things she has ever done, for in separating, she could be a wound inflictor.  In her heart, she struggles to believe that she can’t hurt the dead.  She only enjoys joyful magic these days, not black magic thinking…which is exactly what that is.  When she deals with this, an image of a five year old blond girl, feeling ashamed of what she did to offend (but not sure what that was) pops into her heart.  It’s such a helpless feeling that overcomes her.  So, she is likely to try and please even those who are not worthy of her heart.  Danger zone.

She is emotionally aware of others, sometimes too much so.  She still idealizes, sometimes seeing what she wants to see rather than what is reality.  Then, when she is disappointed, it’s because she trusts she will never be good enough to have the deepest desires of her heart.  She is learning that life really does begin out of her comfort zone and that she firmly resists anyone who tries to put her in a box.  That’s a funny thing to figure out when she still wants to please.  Anais Nin once said, “I take pleasure in my transformations.  I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.”  Heart affirmation.

She is building her prayer life and learning to trust God fully with her heart.  This is a process in every way.  She often asks herself how she will trust the right man with her heart if she won’t trust God with her heart.  She doesn’t know the answer; she does recognize the significance of this question.  Her prayers are very different, her tears flow freely and her laughter is genuine and without apology.  Seeking God’s heart and strengthening her faith are constant forgings; and part of this is searching deeply for her own grown-up understanding of God and the Bible.  She has come a long way from believing that God was a big guy in the sky waiting to strike her down for any minor offense, with a long way to go still.  She is learning to seek Him as Father and friend.  She has many people who have come into her lives with polar opposite thoughts on God.  She listens, she prays, and she seeks intimacy with Him above anyone’s opinion.  The conversations grow her, and hopefully grows them but in the end, she knows she wants to honor what is between she and God above all else.

She is raising her kiddos and absorbing hard truths.  As caller number two pointed out, those kiddos are pretty much raised and she can’t go back and change what she may have broken.  She can only do better with what she knows.  She loves them fiercely and wants to be enough, and she often feels insufficient to do this job without their father in the house.  This is tough.  She enjoys (usually) dating and is wary of how any man would impact the lives of her children.  She also knows that coming from a beautifully blended family that the good possibilities are beyond her imagination, she reminds herself that her fairytale dream is not going to happen, ever.  She wonders how she can reframe her fairytale.  Speaking of dating, she investigates her gravitations in this area with fierce curiosity.  She notices that if there were a scale with a man on each end and one in the middle, she drifts toward the middle.

Man on the left talks about men who are Godly leaders are but doesn’t live that way, the only place he is giving is in bed, is manipulative, super smart in a ‘take note of everything so I can use it against her’ way, selfish, temperamental, impulsive, bad boy imaged, gas lights, lashes out, lies, is not faithful, treats her less than and is still yummy smelling and gives great kisses and hugs.  She knows he is not good for her in any way, but this tells herself this must be how love really is.  After all, it is volatile just like her grandparents were.  There’s no inbetween, its either on or off but she holds all the power to heal him, to heal them.  This makes her feel validated and important.  She has someone or something to save.  She is someone else with this man.  She is wild and passionate in the beginning and then she is broken.

The  man in the middle….he smells fabulous, usually hot, gives great kisses and hugs, sweet, gentle, kind of smart but not really a deep conversationalist, wants to be pursued, drops bread crumbs but just not ready or not wanting to be with her…does want her as a back up just in case.  Whew!  She wants him badly, he is likely not going to happen but she spends way too much time fawning over him and feeling a false sense of relief every time he calls or texts.  She knows he is unavailable, either emotionally, spiritually or in some manner and she chooses to believe that he is ‘good enough’ because she never will be fully worthy of man on the right.  This man gets her very best, she pulls out all the stops to keep him engaged.  She works harder for his attention than he ever will for hers.

Man on the right is strikingly handsome to her, good, kind, tender, wise, compassionate, loving, funny, Godly. smells delicious, gives great hugs and kisses and wants her best; even above his own.  He is intelligent, witty, and has big hands that are gentle.  He is trustworthy, holds her heart in his hands with care and has eyes only for her.   Their souls know each other, he is beyond what she has dreamed.  He might even be special enough to meet her family, friends and fur babies.  She considers him fondly and worries that he is too good to be real. All at once, she is afraid and she is intrigued.  She is cautious and inquisitive about the extraordinary pull she feels toward him.  She does not know how to recieve or whether to trust his kindness, so with every fiber of her being she focuses on the present moment and not on the what if’s.  A new kind of hard.

In each of these scenarios, she is torn.  She doesn’t know who to trust and ultimately, it’s herself that she doesn’t trust.  She knows.  She is working hard to trust.  She is trying hard to own her story while believing that she is worthy of the best God could bring.  She likes to refer to the hard things in life being much like a bear hunt, “can’t go over it, can’t go under it…guess you gotta go through it.”    She has a beautiful imagination and in her relationships can use this to create unreal scenarios or to destroy something before it happens.  She has a protective reason for this.  Control prevents chaos and for someone who grew up with emotional chaos, creating safety in this manner is the logical, albeit not always healthy, thing to do.

She is definitely  work in progress, in every area.  This is okay.  She shares openly many of her thoughts, but there are still many secrets inside of her.  They aren’t intentional secrets, but precious things that she doesn’t want to give away to the world for their dissection and judgement.  Some things are meant to be precious gifts from God in her own heart. She doesn’t want to risk those things being torn apart because they are part of what pieces her together.

There she is…one year later.  Lots of life to live, tons of growing to do and more contentment than she remembers feeling in forever.

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.  Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.  This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” – Psalm 34:4-6