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.

 

 

 

CHOSEN

Sitting in my group psychotherapy class, in a group….it’s my turn to share.  We had each made a collage with images or words that symbolized our spiritual life, gender role, sexual orientation, masks we wear, an identity not mentioned that was important to us and a few other things.

We had been a little bit focused on the topic of death, namely, how our lives would change if we knew we only had 10 years left to live.  There were discussions of dropping out of grad school, deciding no children could be birthed if there were only 10 years with them, and support for having kids even though because the experience was so valuable.  It wasn’t my turn to speak yet, my mind was spinning with thoughts.  10 years!  10 years?  TEN YEARS!  What a gift!  I thought back to the stroke in 2009 and how terrified I was to die.  If someone promised me 10 more years from now, it would almost be a relief.  Then I could stop wondering how much more time I had with my people and in this life. Ten years seems awfully precious when I consider that no one actually knows if they even have the next moment.

The question was posed directly to me, “What was the hardest thing on your collage for you?”   I began sharing;  “You see, in 2009, I had a massive stroke, I had to learn to walk again.”  Having my own mortality in my face like that and realizing how precious it was to be able to walk contributes well to thinking that 10 more years is a gift.  Our professor remarked, “Gosh, you are almost 10 years out from that stroke.”  I am!  I hadn’t even thought of that, and somehow it seems like something that I should celebrate even more than I do every other year.

(SIDENOTE:  I know I drive others crazy with my selfie taking and insistence on picture taking during nearly anything.  My classmates were fussing about precisely this at lunch today, thus, I explained to them the why’s of my insistence.  

My Daddy lost his memories with his Alzheimer’s.  I recognized from that how very important pictures were in helping tell him stories, whether he recalled or not, we remembered precious moments.  Also, after the stroke, I lost a few big  chunks of memories that I treasure.  In looking at pictures or videos, it will often trigger a memory recollection that I had lost.  Lastly, I NEVER took a selfie until after my divorce.  I’m truly not vain.  However, I do cherish memories and know it is possible to lose them.  This is why I like to have so many pictures.  The selfies….they help me remember where I’ve been and how far (usually) I’ve come.)

I continued, “So, the hardest thing on this collage is the blank spot on the bottom left corner.  It is blank because I couldn’t find the word.”  “I was looking for the word chosen“.

This ties in with my ideas of spirituality.  I can trust the process.  I can trust that I am right where I am meant to be.  I can trust that I have a bright future ahead.  I can trust God.  “The reason that chosen ties in with this seems insignificant but I know it’s not.”  In my heart, I know that I have been chosen for many things that I am not deserving of.  I am healthy, whole and breathing, for a start.

I explained in detail, “When I look back and see how God has put the puzzle pieces together, I know He is trustworthy.  In hindsight, He is good.  However, for the future, I struggle with this whole trust thing hugely.  There are two driving factors to my thinking.

First, I am not really sure that the desires of my heart are worth His time, or the plan, or whatever.  Second, I still grapple with the lifetime thoughts that I am not worth it.  Period.  That said, I took a deep breath and shared what my deepest desire was.

I absolutely want to share my life with a mate.  This is terrifying to me.  I explained, “My ex-husband is my best friend, we were together for 23 years and I don’t want to lose that friendship.”  Hard questions followed and the tears that had started flowing the minute I spoke hadn’t stopped.  I decided that my vulnerability in this moment was a good thing, even if it totally sucked.  I know (believe) that when I give my heart to someone, the relationship between my ex and I will need to change.

We will always be important to one another, and we will always have a friendship and co-parent our precious children.  However, we still at times share the intimate nature of friendship that I feel belongs in a relationship.  No more romance but all of the deep connection.  It’s weird.  I just know deep down that will change; and although it could be very positive, it’s super scary.  For 23 years, we have been there for one another.  Who will ever know me so well?  I don’t know how to navigate any of this so even thinking about the possibilities makes me want to throw up in my mouth.

Despite these fears, I long for that intimate, soul sharing connection with the man who I hope exists not just in my heart and mind.  I pray my desires aren’t denied.  I don’t like saying any of this.  It’s quite uncomfortable.  I do not ‘need’ a man.  If it is true that I want my own fairy tale, I am resentful of even wanting that.  I recognize that my fears are holding me back and I am trying my damnedest to work my way out of them.

Back to the word, “chosen“…let me paint what this looks like to me.  I want to be the woman that is not second choice to another woman and is in competition with no one.  I want to choose and be chosen; to cherish and be cherished; to treasure and be treasured; to accept and be accepted; to trust and be trusted; and to passionately love and be passionately loved.  All with the wildness and naturalness we are capable of.

Whether my hair is long or short, my booty is flat or bubblicious, whether my emotions are a jumbled mess or I am steady as a surgeon’s hand…just see me (an my people) and love me (us) right there, just like that.  Just as I am (we are).

Is that a crazy notion? I want to give these things right back, in the manner they are needed.  I guess this is my version of a fairy tale.  I went to the restroom and cleaned of my mascara stained face, then returned to my desk.  I picked up my pen and began an unfiltered 3 page list of what had happened or changed in my life in the past 10 years.  Just look at this…

2009 – 2019

  • Celebratory 1 year ‘birthday’ party on the strokeaversary.  Celebrations on year 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 as well.  I will always celebrate November 9 as a second birthday because it was a second chance that forever changed me for the better.
  • Surgical repair of a paten foramen ovale (hole in my heart suspected to have caused stroke)
  • My babies are 9 years older.  They are 17 and 14.  Just wow.
  • Infidelity in my marriage
  • 3 years of intense marriage therapy and growth
  • Divorce 
  • Started grad school (which I will complete 1 month after my 10th year celebration!)
  • A special journey of self discovery…still in process.
  • Had my only two relationships other than my marriage after divorce. One great, one yuck.  Learning to date.
  • Grappled with God.  Alot.
  • Grappled with self.  Alot.
  • My Daddy battled with Alzheimer’s.  He passed away.  I miss him.
  • Went through and graduated Pathways.
  • Learned more effective ways of dealing with my anxieties and fears.
  • Lost weight. Gained weight. Lost weight.
  • Learning to love myself.
  • Almost lost home due to foreclosure.
  • New and old animals.
  • Worked at Jenks public schools, Sooner Start, Life, Autumn Leaves and I’m sure I’m missing something.
  • Learning the value of letting go, letting go and letting go.
  • Became stronger, wiser, taller, braver, more cognizant of reality and less apt to live in a fantasy land.
  • Continue learning every day.
  • Lost and made and regained and didn’t regain friendships.
  • Endless hugs and kisses, even more heart to heart moments.
  • Drove (all by myself) to Dallas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
  • Finding my voice in a positive way.
  • Practicing gratitude more than ever.
  • Stepped out of my comfort zone a billion times.
  • Crossed items off bucket list, including getting fired from Whole Foods!
  • Learning who I am as a grown woman.
  • Treat myself with love and respect more than ever.
  • Gardened until my fingers and feet were mud stained.
  • Cooked a trillion meals.
  • Watched my Momma move out of our family home and into a new home.
  • Stopped sugar and processed foods.
  • Watched more precious nieces and nephews graduate, get married, have babies, enjoy first careers and more.  Added the role of friend in with aunt.
  • Learned that I am strong.  I am a survivor.  
  • Finding my path to joy and freedom (it’s a journey.)
  • Learned to love the word fuck.  As in fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck….because sometimes it’s the only appropriate word even for a princess.  (really a Sailor Sarah)
  • Experienced two fabulous years of marriage that placed hope in my heart for beautiful things.
  • Put dreams into action, see some coming to fruition.
  • Experienced countless storms, rainy days, splashed in puddles, danced, sang, laughed, cried, embraced, shared, found the deepest pain and the most radiant joy, focused on passions, wrote, cooked, held hands with dying people, held new born babies, manicures, pedicures, massages, listened to music, had my eyes opened to the beauty of diversity, loved hard….an endless list.  
  • I’m still breathing.

I’m breathing.  What a miracle I am.  What a miracle we all are.  This gift of life is one I can barely grasp.  What did I do to deserve the goodness of being here and of being me?  Chosen.  Yes.  Want to be chosen in other ways? Yes.

So ya…10 years.  An amazing gift.

 

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.❤️

ABSTINENCE PROJECT

My current grad school class is on addiction and assessment.  The assignment is to give up something I dearly love for two weeks.  This is the story of how it went and the journal I kept nearly daily regarding my new abstinence.  It is not written to be aesthetically appealing…it’s just my raw thoughts, unedited.

I have chosen to give up all social media for these two weeks.  This includes for me, Facebook (the biggest offender), Snapchat, Instagram (on these two to keep up with my kids and nieces), Twitter (to keep up with an old boyfriend’s articles) and all online dating sites (to meet ‘those’ connection needs).  Even thinking about doing this for two weeks made my belly clench, so I decided it was probably the direction I needed to go. 

            Although we were not required to begin our abstinence until the morning of the class, I had been prepping myself for a couple of weeks.  I’ve not decreased my social media time but I did let my Facebook world know what I would be doing and why.  I was surprised at the positive responses I got and at the people who thought they might ‘try’ it too at some point.  I know a slip up is a possibility but I don’t want to disappoint them.   (or myself)  I asked my best friend to help hold me accountable and I know she will.  I decided yesterday (Thursday) afternoon to go ahead and disconnect.  It had been an emotional day and I was doing lots of introspection…it just seemed like the right time to do it.  Later that night, at home, I opened my laptop to do homework.  Silly think was opened to Facebook from the last time I had used it.  I was mortified and made Audra (we were working together) sign out for me.  In no less than 5 minutes, I got a text from my best friend telling me to get off Facebook.  Geez!  She’s normally such an enabler for others, lol!  Anyway, we called her on speaker because I did not want her to think I really was on Facebook.  I struggle anyone questions my integrity…always have.  The internal struggle when my insides and outsides aren’t matching up is significant so when someone else questions that, it hurts me probably more than it should.

            Nathan (my ex-husband), left for the second time in June, 2016.  My Daddy died in July, 2016.  Going back even further, I had a stroke in 2009.   There was an affair in our marriage in 2013.  I think each of these events strengthened the relationship I already had, especially with Facebook.  (lol!  I just noticed how easily I referred to this possible addiction as a relationship). 

            That leads naturally into my next point…why is social media considered my friend?  I don’t think I use it as my only way to connect, but it definitely is a way to connect.  I’m super relational and I love to write.  I post way more than I even look at things.  But, looking back during those times of trauma, Facebook was an outlet for me to escape from my own reality, see how others were doing and post my journey…all of which were healing for me at the time.  In hindsight, Facebook became a grounding connection when I felt lonely or afraid and it was always there for me.  It was a way to disconnect from my own reality sometimes, and other times I shared my reality…but it was always there.  I love the safety knowing that connection is always there and won’t abandon me.  That’s really dumb.  It reminds me of a client I had who struggled with serious mental health issues and constant loneliness.  He told me that he hated when his cable wasn’t working because the people on t.v. were his only friends and they were always there.  I get it buddy, I get it!

            My addictive behavior of constantly checking Facebook…I look first thing in the morning and know that this ‘friend’ is there when I wake…even though my husband is not.  Now I remember toward the end of our marriage the emptiness I felt when I woke miles away from him in the same bed…we didn’t connect but I would connect with Facebook on my phone.  I check it throughout the day and at night and at bedtime, as well as when I cannot sleep. I check it when I’m reading a book or doing homework or paying bills…no wonder I feel unfocused.   I can see things that connect me, I read things that make me think or annoy me, or even touch my heart.  It gives me a sense of being in touch when there is no one there to touch me.  It fills my empty voids sometimes, other times it’s just positive, and often it’s only a distraction from life.  So, I guess it appeals to my senses through the provision of memories of sweet times, tender touches, comforting smells; I can even hear and see the memories play out it my head.  This is triggered through my own Facebook memories and also through current people and what I see.  This refers to the constant clicking and scrolling part.  Honestly, Facebook is also a way to keep up with the guys I date.  Have they been on and they aren’t talking to me?  Are they just talking to me?  Are they honest?  I’m validating my already existing walls and keeping score, whether they know it or not…and I’m feeding my insatiable curiosity.  Writing this out, I feel like a voyeur and like I’m cheating myself from truly moving forward.

            I think I have already addressed a foundation for how my behavior provides healing or is a balm to my emotional wounds.  Now, as I am really healing, I enjoy reflecting on things I once wrote and seeing how far I’ve come.  Yet, those memories that pop up can sometimes sting a little bit. As I just realized above…how much am I healing and how much am I holding on?  I guess there is a fine balance. In sharing, I always hope that I am offering someone else healing and I hear often that I am.  Hearing I am an inspiration is lovely but not what I seek.  I am who I really am on social media but I find it’s easier for me to get my full feelings out in the written word sometimes, easier to find vulnerability there than in person which is probably part of why it continues to heal.  I should be sharing that by working more on my blog or a book, like I always dream of.  I am seeing though that I need to see how much social media is a true healing mechanism vs. how much social media is a band aid.

            I don’t know that my social media addictive behavior really makes me feel helpless, but entrapped, yes.  I guess because I realize it’s such a thing I reach to without even thinking and also that it made me nervous to think about giving it up, even for two weeks.  That means it manages me more than I manage it and I don’t like that.  That’s where the feeling of entrapment comes from.  As I reflect on this with as much self-honesty as I can muster, I am wondering how many feelings social media helps me keep confined.

            My consistent relationship with social media, Facebook in particular, costs me perhaps more than I have considered.  I have goals and one of them is managing my time intentionally.  Facebook clicking and scrolling steals from my time, and time is not a forever guaranteed thing.  I heard somewhere recently that the average person spends seven years of their life on social media.  Seven years.  I don’t want that.  In those terms, it kind of freaks me out. I could be writing, praying, connecting with my kids and others…instead I’m staring at a screen.  How much of my life am I giving to the blue screen and what will the payoff for that be?  Ugh.

Friday, 1/11/19

Well, welcome official day one, although I started abstaining yesterday afternoon.  Last night, as I was going to sleep, I missed you.  The kids were with their Dad, Audra left, it was just me and the fur babies and it was ultra-quiet.  I felt restless and wondered who I could call.  I decided I was being silly because it was late and I needed to sleep.  I talked to God…a little bit.  I wondered why it’s easier to scroll Facebook than even to connect with God.  This morning, I woke and reminded myself sternly that there would be no looking at social media.  I had removed all of it from my phone yesterday, so that’s helpful.  But you know…I want to know what the rest of the world is doing this morning and who do I tell Happy Friday to and who even cares that I didn’t happy Friday them?  Fingers crossed for today.  Class tonight.  Homework and work today.  I have plenty to do, even pay bills.  But I can’t check social media in between.  L

Saturday 1/12/19

It’s 12:22 a.m.  I had class tonight and also have had a shitload of coffee.  After class, I went by the grocery store and then home to make dinner for tomorrow night’s company and clean up a bit.  I am wired and I am feeling a bit like not being alone…it’s really too late to call people and I’m maybe not even wanting to talk.  I want to look at Facebook and see what everyone is up to.  I haven’t heard from Jason all day and I’m not going to text him, but if I could check Facebook I’d know what he was up to today.  This is annoying.  Also, in class tonight, our professor asked that we all not be on our phones during class and just be present.  That’s totally fair and I know I tend to get distracted and play on my phone.  So then I’m asking myself…am I addicted to social media, really?  Or is it my phone that makes me feel some false sense of security.   I’m actually feeling a little bit pissed that I chose this.  Maybe it’s a good thing that if I were to sign on Facebook, someone would see and ask me about it.  Plus, I want to keep my commitment to myself.  Honestly though, I even thought about if I signed on from a separate account with a different name, no one would know.  I wonder if this is how someone with SUD begins to justify and keep secrets.  Not going to do it but I sure thought about it.  For what?  I guess there is some sense of control in knowing what’s going on…again…unreal.

Sunday, 1/13/19

I went through a whole weekend of class without playing on my phone.  Our professor had requested we unplug and I wanted to honor that.  I always do want to honor that but my desire doesn’t always match my actions.  Well…this weekend it did.  I think it’s funny that some of my closest friends keep asking me how it’s going without social media.  It’s not comparable to a craving for alcohol, I don’t think…but it does leave me feeling empty not to have it.  One of my research articles asked if we are addicted to social media or our telephones.  This is a great question.  I can almost feel panicky at times without my phone but I’m trying so hard to detach from a piece of material and attach to my surroundings.  It’s a real struggle.  My phone, just like social media, is always there so why would I want to take it away?

Monday, 1/14/19

I couldn’t sleep all night.  I woke several different times thinking it was time to get up and get ready.  It wasn’t.  Each time, I wanted to look at Facebook.  I woke realizing I was the only one home. Kids at their Dad’s and no one in bed with me for sure (except the fur babies…but…) Anyway, I wanted to tell the fb world I couldn’t sleep.  When I have done that in the past, someone also says #metoo and I know I’m not alone.  On this night, I very much knew that I was alone.  Why did I forget to talk to God?  I guess I thought he would be on Facebook.

Tuesday, 1/15/19

Oh my gosh.  Today, at work, I accidentally clicked the shortcut to Facebook.  I didn’t really realize what I’d done until it opened up and I saw the home page.  I freaked out and shut it quicker than I could blink but I HATED doing so.  First, I felt really guilty…like I had somehow cheated although it truly was accidental.  I’ve also started eating Keto’ish again within this journey.  I notice I am imposing a lot of rules on myself lately in addition to the social media restriction.  Like, if I am abstaining from that I ought to be able to abstain from other things too.  I wonder if this is one end of the spectrum an addict falls on.  I’m very all or nothing in my thinking when I don’t watch it, very perfectionistic.  Then, when things don’t work out like I had planned, I tend to want to throw in the towel.  I don’t do this often like I used to but as I write this it’s like a slippery slope…if I mess up once why can’t I just go ahead and fall in the black hole for a while and hide?  Like, if I had chosen to stay on that Facebook page I probably would’ve spent way too long looking at it because if I messed up, I should do even that right.  I’m glad I don’t struggle with alcohol addiction especially because I can see how allowing myself one drink as addict would very quickly give me permission to just binge since I’d already f’ed up.  All or nothing.  Gaaaa.

Wednesday, 1/16/19

I’m tired, whiny and would like to get on Facebook.  I thought about writing on my blog or journal but I tell myself that I don’t have the energy for that. Getting on fb, I can just click and scroll and stare without having to participate.  Wow!  I didn’t even realize the truth of that statement and the power in it until I read what just flowed out of me. I can observe without participating.  I hope that’s absolutely not a mirror to my life.  My first thought upon waking this morning was pertaining to when I get to get back on Facebook in a week and a half.  All day, I have considered what I want to say.  Do I want to just look and not say anything or do I want to share part of my journal or what?  Tonight, I ran into a friend who asked when I am getting back on Facebook.  She said she misses my posts.  She’s like the fifth person to say this in a few days which strikes me as a little bit funny and also a little bit nice. I’ve watched addicts in my life who need to completely abstain from a substance, and instead they talk about how they can manage and still have their drug of choice.  Have their cake and eat it too.  If Facebook were cake and no one could see, I’d be eating the whole damn thing tonight. Another thing that bothers me…why do my friends get to be on social media but I don’t?  I guess that’s relative to addiction too…how many times have I heard my beloved alcoholic brother ask why we are all on his case about drinking a drink but don’t bother each other about it.  It really doesn’t seem fair, no matter which way you pitch it.  Six days down, nine more to go.  Blech.

Thursday, 1/17/19

So…ugh.  I just ordered an Ipsy bag for Stella and the only way to get the two free extra items was to share on Facebook.  So I did. It went to my fb page and I glanced long enough to see that I had over 20 messages in my inbox.  I quickly clicked off but I just want to say that I desperately want to see what those messages are.  Are they important?  Do people miss me?  It feels like a compulsion how bad I want to look at those messages.  I’m telling myself that looking will not do anything but be a temporary pleasure and I will be so disappointed in myself.  I’m not going to look.  I want to though.  Not three minutes after I logged off, my friend Edward called to check in and see how my social media thing was going.  He saw me online and wasn’t calling to ‘get me’ but he knew this project was really important to me.  It’s easy to be accountable when everyone can see what I am doing, and I have enough guilt even over my thoughts and accidental exposures.  What would I be doing if my abstinence were coffee, sugar, drugs or something that no one could see me indulge in?  Would I still have the guilt and seek accountability?  I like to think yes but I don’t know.

Friday, 1/18/19

It’s a lovely thunderstorm tonight, my kids are gone…the house is quiet.  I want to look at what the whole wide world is doing.  I actually am in such a mood to snuggle but there is no one here to snuggle.  My puppies and kitty are clean…I guess I can snuggle them.  Sometimes these nights are awesome and sometimes my heart feels super empty.  Getting on Facebook right now would allow me to avoid journaling or blogging about the sadness my heart feels right now.  Empty.  I guess if I were working with a client, I might challenge them to a little questioning…’what would happen if you leaned into your feelings right now instead of distracting yourself from them?’  That client might respond by telling me that if they did that, they may cry.  I might ask them what would be wrong with crying.  My client would tell me that they are feeling alone and just so tired of crying.  No pity parties here.  Facebook helps me shove those ickies down deeper sometimes.  One of the reasons addicts use is because it numbs.  Guess what?  Facebook helps me in the same way sometimes.  Six more days of abstinence.  I wonder what I am going to do at the end of this.  I don’t want to give up social media but I don’t want it managing me either.  I need a plan to find the balance.  There are a lot of things I do to distract myself from life.  Facebook is only one consideration.  Gaaaa.

Saturday, 1/19/19

I’m feeling super grumpy today.  It’s cold and gray and the snow that was supposed to come no showed…again!  My dogs are shedding no matter how much I brush them and I am shoulding all over myself no matter if I know better.  I have fought the urge to peek at social media all day long.  Maybe I am a little bit bored with myself.  I’ve had a lot of coffee, two bubble baths, written a blog post, done a huge part of my homework for this class and laundry.  In my mind, I am really trying to justify just a little time online.  If no one would find out today, I know what I would be doing.  I’m also committed so damnit, I will get through this assignment without cheating but there are no promises after that.  My sister called to see how it was going and tell me she’s proud of me.  She said she is thinking about taking a break too because she is annoyed with the amount of time she wastes online.  I assured her I was not giving fb up but that I was going to definitely limit my time on it.  She also said she rarely posts but loves to look. I’ve decided that she is worse off than me…I share more than I stalk.  Justify.  Justify.  Justify.  Lastly, I’m getting bored with the men I am dating and I would like to explore options on dating sites.  Now…no one but me would know if I did that.  I don’t know why I have to be sooooo well behaved.  Damnit.  One more thing…I cannot tell you how many times I have clicked on the Facebook shortcut and opened it without even thinking about what I am doing.  Freud would say I have three drives…sex, aggression and Facebook.  Every time I do it I have thought about looking but I have opted to stick with my guns.  I don’t think I am enjoying this.  Finding the value, yes, enjoying…no.

Sunday, 1/20/19

Monday, 1/21/19

I didn’t make an entry yesterday.  I thought about it several times but I’m telling you right now that had I opened my computer I would’ve clicked on Facebook, or Bumble, or POF or anything.  I was upset with my ex-husband, I was upset with the guy I’ve been dating, I was ruminating on ugly thoughts about myself and listening to a headful of hurtful lies in my head.  I’ve been journaling more but I didn’t journal yesterday.  I wanted to escape.  I woke up feeling the same about it this morning.  I did consider (repeatedly) that no one would know if I was on any social media except Facebook but I know I would know and that it would bother me immensely that I didn’t keep my commitment.  It’s not even been two weeks and I think about what I can’t do way too often.  I did something new today though…actually it’s something I used to do years and years ago but stopped doing somewhere in the midst of life.  No one was home but me and I turned my music up and danced around like a wild woman!  I danced until I was sweaty, red and feeling all the feels.  I yelled at Chad at the top of my lungs (matters not that he wasn’t here) for what he did to me.  I didn’t realize that was even inside of me.  Tonight, I am feeling sore and also very proud of myself.  I didn’t give in to the numbing.  It’s not about social media.  It’s about the avoidance and drowning out of the feels.  Does that mean with an addict in therapy that the focus should be on the why more than on the drug of choice?  Something to ponder.-

Tuesday, 1/22/19

I did some super hard grown up stuff yesterday.  I wrote the prologue for my book.  I did laundry.  I danced and danced and danced today, scheduled interviews, saw a movie with my family and prepared for my first internship staffing tomorrow.  I didn’t get on social media one time.  My Momma marvels at what I accomplish without Facebook.  My sweet niece texted me from college to tell me she misses me and when would I be back on Facebook?  Now I am getting in a bit of a panic about how to set appropriate boundaries for myself when I resume social media.  I considered the ‘if’ I resume social media but honestly, there are a lot of positives there.  I just have to figure out how to manage my time better and certainly learn that social media sites are absolutely something I want to make a priority and allow it to be a thief to my real life.  I’m actually looking very much forward to resuming the activity but even that fear comes with anxiety and fear about how I will manage it instead of it managing me.  I’m thinking the multitude of drugs of choice.  How does an addict live in real life, very possibly surrounded by their substance or behavior and make the decision not to use?  It’s got to be a constant stressor…is it possible for a true addict to not always deal with this struggle whether they take on a substance abuse label or not?

Wednesday, 1/23/19

Thursday, 1/24/19

Welp!  Tomorrow is the big day.  I can be on Facebook and other sights again.  Actually, I started one day early and so I technically was allowed back on today.  In light of self-discipline and thinking through things, I have made the decision to not get back on Facebook until tomorrow.  (This means midnight, ha!)  I did put one dating sight back on my phone today because I have a date this weekend and I wanted to study him up, lol!  I have gotten so much value out of this assignment.  Of course it has given me insight into the world of addiction; moreover, it has given me insight into my own patterns of behavior.  I am astonished at how much I have achieved not on Facebook, and at the feelings I have let myself feel.  I will write about this is detail in my summary, but I am thankful for this two week stint.  I’m thinking of questions that I will ask myself before I utilize social media on a regular basis…I am not sure how they will be framed but it will be my goal to get at the why of what I am doing and if I would benefit more from another activity in that moment. 

Resistant Me

I am resistant if you are willing. If you are willing, I am resistant. and so we dance around. and around. and around. Never do we arrive . We memorize the steps so we can begin again. -me

I am currently in my addiction and assessment class at school Fascinating because I have lived my 46 years surrounded by addicts that I love, and still I am learning the process of addiction. Bottom line…it sucks no matter which way you spin it.

One of our assigned projects is to give up something for two weeks. Read all about it…. (I am keeping a daily log/journal…can’t wait to share that). I am learning things about myself that aren’t the most pleasing. I am learning nonetheless.

I have chosen to give up all social media for these two weeks.  This includes for me, Facebook (the biggest offender), Snapchat, Instagram (on these two to keep up with my kids and nieces), Twitter (to keep up with an old boyfriend’s articles) and all online dating sites (to meet ‘those’ connection needs).  Even thinking about doing this for two weeks made my belly clench, so I decided it was probably the direction I needed to go. 

            Although we were not required to begin our abstinence until the morning of the class, I had been prepping myself for a couple of weeks.  I’ve not decreased my social media time but I did let my Facebook world know what I would be doing and why.  I was surprised at the positive responses I got and at the people who thought they might ‘try’ it too at some point.  I know a slip up is a possibility but I don’t want to disappoint them. (or myself)  I asked my best friend to help hold me accountable and I know she will.  I decided yesterday (Thursday) afternoon to go ahead and disconnect.  It had been an emotional day and I was doing lots of introspection…it just seemed like the right time to do it.  Later that night, at home, I opened my laptop to do homework.  Silly thing was opened to Facebook from the last time I had used it.  I was mortified and made my classmate (we were working together) sign out for me.  In no less than 5 minutes, I got a text from my best friend telling me to get off Facebook.  Geez!  She’s normally such an enabler for others, lol!  Anyway, we called her on speaker because I did not want her to think I really was on Facebook.  I struggle if anyone questions my integrity…always have.  The internal struggle when my insides and outsides aren’t matching up is significant so when someone else questions that, it hurts me probably more than it should.

            My ex-husband, left our home for the second time in June, 2016.  My Daddy died in July, 2016.  Going back even further, I had a stroke in 2009.   There was an affair in our marriage in 2013.  We legally divorced in 2017. I think each of these events strengthened the relationship I already had with social media, especially with Facebook.  (lol!  I just noticed how easily I referred to this possible addiction as a relationship). 

            That leads naturally into my next point…why is social media considered my friend?  I don’t think I use it as my only way to connect, but it definitely is a way to connect.  I’m super relational and I love to write.  I post way more than I even look at things.  But, looking back during those times of trauma, Facebook was an outlet for me to escape from my own reality, see how others were doing and post my journey…all of which were healing for me at the time.  In hindsight, Facebook became a grounding connection when I felt lonely or afraid and it was always there for me.  It was a way to disconnect from my own reality sometimes, and other times I shared my reality…but it was always there.  I love the safety knowing that connection is always there and won’t abandon me.  That’s really dumb.  It reminds me of a client I had who struggled with serious mental health issues and constant loneliness.  He told me that he hated when his cable wasn’t working because the people on t.v. were his only friends and they were always there.  I get it buddy, I get it!

            My compulsitory behavior of constantly checking Facebook…I look first thing in the morning and know that this ‘friend’ is there when I wake…even though my once husband is not.  Now I remember toward the end of our marriage the emptiness I felt when I woke miles away from him in the same bed…we didn’t connect but I would connect with Facebook on my phone.  I check it throughout the day and at night and at bedtime, as well as when I cannot sleep. I check it when I’m reading a book or doing homework or paying bills…no wonder I feel unfocused.   I can see things that connect me, I read things that make me think or annoy me, or even touch my heart.  It gives me a sense of being in touch when there is no one there to touch me.  It fills my empty voids sometimes, other times it’s just positive, and often it’s only a distraction from life.  So, I guess it appeals to my senses through the provision of memories of sweet times, tender touches, comforting smells; I can even hear and see the memories play out it my head.  This is triggered through my own Facebook memories and also through current people and what I see.  This refers to the constant clicking and scrolling part.  Honestly, Facebook is also a way to keep up with the guys I date.  Have they been on and they aren’t talking to me?  Are they just talking to me?  Are they honest?  I’m validating my already existing walls and keeping score, whether they know it or not…and I’m feeding my insatiable curiosity.  Writing this out, I feel like a voyeur and like I’m cheating myself from truly moving forward.

            I think I have already addressed a foundation for how my behavior provides healing or is a balm to my emotional wounds.  Now, as I am really healing, I enjoy reflecting on things I once wrote and seeing how far I’ve come.  Yet, those memories that pop up can sometimes sting a little bit. As I just realized above…how much am I healing and how much am I holding on?  I guess there is a fine balance. In sharing, I always hope that I am offering someone else healing and I hear often that I am.  Hearing I am an inspiration is lovely but not what I seek.  I am who I really am on social media but I find it’s easier for me to get my full feelings out in the written word sometimes, easier to find vulnerability there than in person which is probably part of why it continues to heal.  I should be sharing that by working more on my blog or a book, like I always dream of.  I am seeing though that I need to see how much social media is a true healing mechanism vs. how much social media is a band aid.

            I don’t know that my social media addictive behavior really makes me feel helpless, but entrapped, yes.  I guess because I realize it’s such a thing I reach to without even thinking and also that it made me nervous to think about giving it up, even for two weeks.  That means it manages me more than I manage it and I don’t like that.  That’s where the feeling of entrapment comes from.  As I reflect on this with as much self-honesty as I can muster, I am wondering how many feelings social media helps me keep confined.

            My consistent relationship with social media, Facebook in particular, costs me perhaps more than I have considered.  I have goals and one of them is managing my time intentionally.  Facebook clicking and scrolling steals from my time, and time is not a forever guaranteed thing.  I heard somewhere recently that the average person spends seven years of their life on social media.  Seven years.  I don’t want that.  In those terms, it kind of freaks me out. I could be writing, praying, connecting with my kids and others…instead I’m staring at a screen.  How much of my life am I giving to the blue screen and what will the payoff for that be?  Ugh.