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.

Struggling

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

― Rainer Maria Rilke

Oh geez louise.  If there is a mistake to be made lately, I am making it.  The struggles are real.  I’m trying to comfort myself by reminding myself, ‘this too shall pass’, ‘in everything there is a lesson to be learned’, ‘find the value’ and ‘God’s got me’.  Truthfully…I wonder if these things are true.  What if this is as good as it gets and nothing is going to ‘pass’?  How come I keep getting the same lessons, what am I missing?  Am I figuring out who I have always been or am I living out the years I never got to live out (adolescence)?

I bet parenting me is much like parenting a wild 17 year old who is determined to find her own way without undertaking any advisement.  So be it, I guess.  It’s where I am and I am so entirely sick of fighting with myself that I’m trying to just be.  Be me.  The challenge…I’m not entirely sure who I am.  One day I’m full of maturity, light and goodness…the next day I am determined to be as naughty as can be, wanting nothing or no one to constrain my freedom.  But you see…I’m not even sure what freedom means to me.

Forgive my scatteredness, and be thankful I took time to write in my journal before this post in order to ‘sort’ my everrunning thoughts. 

I spent time with a fabulous new friend last night, who happens among other several things to be an atheist.   I am very much a lover of Jesus and a hater of rules, and I greatly enjoy discussions with those of different belief systems.  As long as we can agree to disagree, I find great value in hearing another’s perspective and in sharing mine.  I am open to both their story and to telling mine.   We are all connected, there is value in each of our stories.  This is why I have difficulty when someone is closed to these interactions.  Like…what’ so scary about hearing another person’s view?   There’s no need to have a change of heart or mind just because there is a different perspective and if a change results…whatever.

I also have a dear, dear friend who happens to be more devoted to his Catholicism than anyone Catholic person I’ve ever known.  We have strikingly different views and we’ve had some terrifically difficult conversations.  That said, I have the utmost respect for his beliefs and I feel valued when I share with him.  I am thankful for that give and take. 

On the same token, another one of my dearest friends is an atheist.  It’s the same kind of give and take in our relationship and we actually learn a lot from our open heartedness toward each other. We ask each other super tough questions and continue to challenge one another to grow through these fittings together of our puzzles.  I guess I can surmise from this that when a person is valued over the need to be right, a very different relationship emerges.

Furthermore, I have many friends who don’t fall into an extreme end of the spectrum but somewhere in the middle.  They might be sure of their faith, they may be doubting and searching or they might just be numb and oblivious.  There isn’t one of them that doesn’t offer value to my life with where they are and I hope I do the same for them.

So…back to last night with my new friend….  I was very curious about their reasons they hold so tight to their beliefs.  They shared  and so much of it made  complete logical sense to me.  During our conversation, I tried to share just the little bit that I could about my faith.  It was hard.  I am deeply searching and trying to understand the foundations of my beliefs.  The faith part is so much easier for me to share.  Just like my own life, I’m so much more assured of how to share my feelings than my thoughts, and as a Christian, my feelings are more cemented and easier to share than my logic.

I explained that it was exceptionally difficult for me to understand how I was alive.  I made it through an open heart surgery at 9 months of age that was supposed to be done in two parts.  As I understand it, they came out in the middle of my first surgery and told my parents that they had to do the rest then or I would ‘be a vegetable’.  My Momma tells me that this was the first time she really knew she had faith because she never doubted that I wouldn’t be just fine. 

To give a little picture of the weight of the circumstances, I was more tubes than baby, and was one of the youngest babies to ever have this complete correction at such a young age.  It was a significant deal.  The doctors told my family it was a 50/50 chance of success but not doing it would mean bad things.  They did it and I’m obviously here to tell about it.  So, why, oh why are there babies with a lesser degree of the same defect that die today still?  Why am I alive?  Why doesn’t everyone get their miracle?

Then…a pretty healthy life.  Fast forward to that big ole stroke when I was 37.  That one that ‘should’ve killed me’ and that one where I had to learn to walk again…like an infant.  Again…why am I here?  So many are not.

So…my new friend asks me what kind of God would let little bitty babies die and me live?  An extremely fair question and one I have often wrestled with.  Tonight, I wrestle extra hard because the best answer I have is that I’m not God and I have to trust that He has a panoramic view and I have a snapshot.  Sometimes I believe this a thousand times over, other times, I doubt everything.  

I sure don’t know why God has me here and I’m really wondering how my life is one he’d be proud of right now.  I mess up.  Alot and quite intentionally.  I can be obstinate and determined to create my own path, hurting others along the way of my learning.  I can be unfocused and lackadaisical.  I am a bundle of pure messiness.  It is what it is. I am so deeply grateful for every moment.

A bit weary and overwhelmed, I am searching too often in others and not often enough in my own heart. It’s all okay. I’ve finally found peace with trusting that God not only accepts my doubts, He welcomes them.  For when I doubt, I am searching for his majesty when I am so small.  I am searching for His peace amidst my chaos.  

I am struggling, 100% with the dawning of these new lights…and that’s perfectly okay.

Random blitherings

This isn’t my normal writing…it’s just my heart poured out along with the ramblings of my mind.  It’s a heavy kind of night…one of those nights that one thing that is bothersome leads to another thing and before long, my insides are all helter skelter willy nilly.

There is an underlying edge of melancholy trying to set in as I attempt to avoid ruminating over ickies.  At times,  I feel sad about the countless changes in my little family and I miss my Daddy so much it hurts.  Christmas and Thanksgiving are looking super different this year and if I’m honest, I’d have to say I’m struggling a bit more than slightly.

As I write tonight, these tears just keep pouring out of me.  I tell myself that it’s okay that things have changed.  It is okay, I know this is true.  It doesn’t change that it hurts.  I think of my dear friends who lost their momma this year.  I think of my sisters who lost their momma a few years ago.  Loss, loss, loss.  Everywhere there is loss.  That is the story my mind is telling me right now.  Ugh.

I hate that I was unable to give my children the traditional family that I longed to give them since before they were ever brought into existence.  I don’t care to share them over the holidays.  I will, because they are deeply loved by both their Father and I and they deserve our genuinely compassionate, loving, tender cooperation.  There are a few moments though, that I am pouting about it all.  There are also moments that I am overcome with gratitude because I know that the divorce set me free from some things I needed to be set free from.  This gratitude for myself is always connected with guilt that my babies didn’t get what I wanted them to have.  I wanted.  I wanted.  Trying to appreciate once more that God has a panoramic view and I only have a snapshot.

As the 9th anniversary of the big ole’ stroke nears, I am reminded of a wee bit of loss and far more of extraordinary gain.  That stroke was the turning point for God and I.  (probably more of my turning point, He was there all along).  This thought reminds me of how thankful I am for the very breath He gives me.  I made a short, silly video recently talking about how very grateful I am for the undeserved miracles I have had in my life.  It is good for my soul to think on those things.  In my changed relationship with God, I realized that I can share anything with God…whether I’m angry, sad, jealous, resentful or joyful, grateful, blessed, kind, etc.  Whatever I am feeling I can tell him.  So tonight, I am thanking Him for life and also telling him that my heart is aching.

I have visited with three dear friends this week….all men who have been considering suicide.  I pray that they know they are loved and cared for.  I pray they choose life because even in the midst of this loss, chaos and pain; life is beautiful and life is worth living well.

In the scheme of it all, we are each so very small.  I adore sunsets, sunrises, and the sky in general.  I could lie for hours and stare at the stars.  It all just reminds me, in a comforting way, we are miracles in the midst of it all.  Life is beautiful.  Isn’t it ironic?  Sometimes the most beauty arises from incredibly significant pain.  No matter what…seek the beauty and live life well.

God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

46 Reasons

This last week has been fabulously filled with new life adventures, and I have enjoyed every single moment.  Here are 46 reasons why:

  1. Last Sunday, I went to church.  I may have been feeling just a little bit lonely’ish.  A dear friend was a few rows away with her beautiful children and a friend; instead of sitting by myself, I sat with my friend and her family.  This just made the service/worship so much sweeter.
  2. Later that day, I met a new friend for coffee.  We had a deeply rich, spiritual conversation that seemed to be the beginning of chipping away at a few of my soul’s survival tactics that really do not serve me well anymore.  I had found a little bag of my Grandma’s Catholic books and it was so incredible to be able to share them with a friend who appreciated them….not planned but incredible.
  3. I feel like my spirit has been napping and I’m waking up to the vibrancy of my being.  It’s just in the air or something…a new (or renewed?) energy
  4. It was a week of fun selfies and spectacular quotes.  One of my favorite is worth sharing here…”If you’re pretty, you’re pretty; but the only way to be beautiful is to be loving.  Otherwise, it’s just, ‘Congratulations about your face.'”  This is the best!!!
  5. On that topic, I have noticed that we as a society can be very mocking and critical of selfie taking.  I say just let people be.  I can only speak for me, but taking selfies after the divorce was a huge stretch for me…it always felt like part of the picture was missing.  Now, I take them not because I am vain…usually because I feel silly, or contemplative, or whatever I feel and this is a way to share it.  So…this week I took a selfie nearly every day and shared it.  Why?  Because it was a lovely week and I chose to share my journey in this way…the end.
  6. Tuesday, I got to work on homework….I did this all week.  It was supposed to be stormy on all the days ending in Y, but that didn’t quite happen.  When it got down to the wire though, it rained…this meant more focus on my paper.  (Don’t ask, I’m just quirky like that!)
  7. Also Tuesday, I made another lovely friend and had a wonderful evening.  All I’m going to say is this…it’s socially awkward when one is on a date, and while on that date, runs into someone they’ve also been dating (not secretly) with their date.  Think that over.
  8. On Wednesday evening, (my actual birthday), I said bon voyage to 45 bonjour to 46! My precious momma and kids took me out to dinner.  Not one of them complained that I chose sushi and we had a fabulous time together.  I am extraordinarily blessed to have gotten that time with the woman who gave me life and the children that I gave life to.
  9. Also on Wednesday, my Facebook wall, text messages and phone calls were inundated with loving birthday messages.  Maybe I’m more like a child on birthdays, but I believe we ALL deserve special love on the day of our birth….find more reasons to celebrate…life is a celebration when you live in gratitude!
  10. I went to the chapel at St. Bernard’s…where my Grandma went to church.  I spent an hour praying, being still, looking around, thinking, and praying some more.  I was relieved that the toenails on Mary’s feet were not painted and were very real looking.  I left with something…I felt like God was letting me know that my openness was a gift, and at the same time asking where I needed closure.  Suffice it to say, there is an entire post to be written about this experience.
  11. The bestest part of my birthday was finding the video of my Momma and Daddy singing me the happy birthday song together.  Daddy was starting to struggle with his memory then, and that memory popping up made my heart incredibly happy.  I think I watched it 100 times throughout my day.
  12. I got flowers on my birthday.  Because my friend loves me and she knows that flowers fill me with joy.  I didn’t expect flowers, but she remembered.  It’s a gift to have a friend who remembers you like this.
  13. Thursday was a busy day at work, and I was reminded through my clients how very fortunate I am to have a home, clothing, food, pets, mostly happy and healthy children, air conditioning, blankets, a toothbrush and not a consistent fear for my safety.  Gratitude gratitude gratitude.
  14. Very good company Thursday night and another birthday dinner.  And…I saw the movie CLUE.  No, of course I didn’t doze off during the movie!
  15. Friday, I took 1/2 a day off work…thank God for a flexible job!   I finished a paper I’d been putting off for way too long, it really wasn’t so bad once I sat still.  Good thing since the paper was due in class that evening.
  16. Friday was the one year anniversary of our divorce.  I didn’t feel broken, ashamed, weary, hopeless and defeated.  I actually felt just the opposite.  I’m coming together, content, peaceful, hopeful and anticipatory.  I’m human so sometimes I struggle, yet this is authentic healing.
  17. Saturday was lovely.  It began early as I awoke listening to my brother sing loudly and cheerfully from the other room.  It was an awesome way to wake up and get ready for a day of class!
  18. My dear brother and friend joined our class Saturday afternoon.  So did one of my classmate/friend’s gorgeous wife.  It was absolutely fun to have their interaction for our discussion and I believe every weekend class should entail some sort of bring a guest show and tell!
  19. After class meant a drink or two with the above mentioned gentlemen and lively discussions!  That was awesome and I think I have now tried every flavor of Moscow Mule at PJ’s except for the one with whiskey…because whiskey is ewww to me.
  20. I had the opportunity to have a heartfelt conversation with my baby daddy.  (The wonderful man who I was with for 23 years).  I wanted to apologize to him for things I had done in our marriage that I just needed to take ownership for.  It would’ve been easy to continue to let him own it all, but this honesty is part of my continued healing and hopefully his as well.  I wish everyone had this chance.  Say what you need to say.  Forgiveness.  Compassion.  It all lets us move forward in grace.  If it’s not possible to share with the person, write it out and burn it…do what you need to do to heal…it’s worth it.
  21. Saturday night…topped with a warm bath, clean sheets, a great book and a glass of wine…had the best sleep I’ve had in a long time!
  22. Sunday began with a yummy breakfast cooked for me by my brother…and coffee…of course, coffee.  I sat on the porch and enjoyed this, read my Bible and enjoyed the magnificent morning.
  23. So…I read all of Corinthians 1 again, beautiful.  In my deep conversations with my new friend, I have felt a bit challenged.  Not in a bad way…in an ‘iron sharpens iron’ kind of way.  I know my faith is strong.  I am sure of my salvation.  I understand and have many biblical stories and scriptures stored in my heart.  In my quest to grow closer to God, I think it worthwhile to examine my foundational beliefs so I can better explain to others where I come from.  This is absolutely not the same as wanting to right fight and defend.  I want to understand more deeply all of the Bible…in context, not just here and there, for myself more than for anything.
  24. I had an especially sweet afternoon with a handsome, poetic hearted friend.  Who wouldn’t enjoy that?
  25. Tonight was coffee and a long overdue conversation with someone I love very much.  It was time to hear each other’s hearts so we could just move forward.  I thank God for these moments.
  26. This birthday week has been overflowing with new adventures and healing of old wounds.  In earlier blogs I’ve discussed my love of the words synchronicity and serendipity.  I still love them.  Even more, I love watching them in action.
  27. It’s been a deeply contemplative, prayerful week filled with thought-provoking discussions and earnest seeking.  These things are important to me, so I am thankful for each of these experiences.
  28. My children have been extra peaceful.  I don’t know why, I’m not going to try to explain.  I am intensely thankful for these moments though.
  29. Watching my daughter ice-skate and seeing her joy after she’s learned a new maneuver…priceless.  It was her daddy’s turn to take her this week but he sent me a video.  She wows me.
  30. Seeing the twinkle in my son’s eyes this week, even for a fleeting moment, makes my Momma heart happy.
  31. I have lost 20.3 pounds.  My next size down clothes are beginning to fall off of me.  I might not love that I had to change bra sizes but I do love my mostly steady energy and the way my body is changing.
  32. I see that while I am opening myself to new experiences, I am beginning to find healthy vulnerability again in areas that I had chosen previously kept  walled off.  I’m relieved that this is happening.
  33. I have set boundaries where before I would’ve not done so.  Sometimes, it really is less about fulfilling others expectations and more about taking care of myself.  This especially applies to my journey in dating. Stating my boundaries clearly and expecting that they be honored is just as new as dating.  This is all fresh territory.
  34. Staying in touch with new, new/old, old friends is a gift.  Remember, “make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold?”  Yes.  Do that.
  35. I look in the mirror and sometimes I look tired.  I see more wrinkles than I used to. I see a belly that housed two healthy, glorious babies.   Guess what else I see?  I see a woman who is lovely and becoming more at peace with herself as time passes.  I see the heart of a child and the strength of a woman.  I see God’s princess.  I see someone who is worthy of goodness.
  36. I have laughed, cried and enjoyed myself this last week more than I have in so long.  I’m not sure why.  Whatever….I’m grateful.
  37. I turned down a fabulous internship opportunity because I knew it would not be the best for my family.  Doing the right thing isn’t always fun.  There will be an even better opportunity, this I know.
  38. I ate cheesecake on my birthday…tempura battered cheesecake with cream and strawberries.  I haven’t had anything like this since April.  Oh my goodness, life is short and enjoying dessert is a luxurious treat!
  39. My puppies, my kitty and even that little lizard make me smile.  God is so cool to even provide us with these little muffinheads….just makes me think how much He loves us to give us these kinds of enjoyments.
  40. I got myself a couple of new books for my birthday.  I don’t buy myself things often and most of my reading time is spent on school books…but I’m so excited to read something purely for pleasure.
  41. My house is an absolute mess.  Parts of it feel like they are literally crumbling under my feet.  (Literally, it’s kind of happening like that).  It’s gonna be okay.  I don’t know how but I know it is.  Trusting the process.  Praying hard!  Remembering, I have a home.
  42. My coffee was paid for twice this week by random strangers.  How’s that for a birthday treat?
  43. Baby tomatoes are still growing on my vines.  I was shaking one of the plants one morning…to shake the pollen down.  Although I was gentle, a little baby fell off the vine and I felt so sad.  So…I buried it.  If I were that baby tomato I’d just use my seeds to make another vine and I’d grow taller and stronger than the original vine.  However, I’m not the tomato, I guess we will see what happens next!
  44. I’ve found lots of new music to enjoy on Spotify this week, I once forgot the love of music that I have.  Like…how do people ever live without music?  TV, I understand but music has to be.
  45. Stella and I came up with a grand book idea…maybe we can make it happen.  That’s pretty hopeful!
  46. I learned that sometimes, you just gotta spill the tea, sis!

It’s just been the best birthday week ever and my cup overflows.  The kindnesses bestowed on me are astonishing and I hope I give back well all that I receive.

Grace.  Peace.  Joy.  Mercy. Compassion.

Continue reading “46 Reasons”

Life

There are occasions that I wish I could go back with my magic wand to erase certain points in time; there are other times that I’d like to go back and sprinkle more pixie dust where I previously restrained myself from doing so.  As this post-divorce journey complete with the roller coaster of grief, healing and transformation progress, I am still at times surprised by my own strong emotional reactions.

My beloved Anais Nin so eloquently said, “Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.”  There is intense applicable truth for me in this quote.  Recently, I was retelling my precious Mother something I had done that left me full of regret and shame.  She replied with, “Sarah Ann!  That doesn’t even sound like you!”  (She’s right, I know).  In other instances, I have found myself jumping quicker into aspects of a relationship that I ‘normally’ would think to hold much more stringent boundaries around.  This time, I scold myself…”Sarah!  Gaaaa…this isn’t even you!”  Hmmmm…is it not me or is it the me I have always restrained?

A dear friend mentioned “this version of me” in a conversation about this very topic.  Initially, this was a struggle to understand.  How can I be authentic and still a very different version of myself…what is real?  We are always changing, ever evolving, consistently transforming, right?  It seems the harder we resist change, the stronger change overtakes us.  I guess it’s all about riding the wave but why is that so much easier to preach than to practice?

In the ongoing self study I am doing, there are absolutely new aspects of me that are emerging.  I’ve decided that there is far more value in embracing and accepting myself than there is in trying to discern whether the aspects are truly new or just now being allowed to be present.  In the multitude of errors I’ve been making, there are lessons (albeit painful), there is growth, and mostly…there is grace.  I have to talk myself into the last one though.

HUGE valuable lessons I’ve received lately, they’ve been hard but in light of trusting the process and enjoying the journey, I’m doing the best I can to take accountability, apologize and move forward.  There’s always that inner voice telling me to make things right for everyone else and it’s exhausting.  One thing at a time, right?

  • Sexual intimacy…no matter what I tell myself…changes the emotional attachment dynamic.  When sexual intimacy occurs too early,  it can decrease brain power and increase ideation….thus elevating the chances that inappropriate emotional reactivity will occur.  Ugh.
  • People will judge behaviors.  Only God and I get to decide the best actions, thoughts and behaviors for me.  Feedback is always appreciated and weighed carefully, but in the end, the one who will confront my inner conflict is me.  So…thank you for caring enough to share, I promise to weigh it carefully.  🙂
  • Dating is an adventure.  There are friends to be made, things to learn about others and myself and tons of value in this season…but I still miss my family as it was and that is okay.  Grief for a loss and celebration of new can absolutely walk hand in hand.
  • Due to a chaotic childhood, I tend toward the ‘what if’s’ and control.  Not control to control; rather to keep my world feeling safe.  Not everyone (actually no one) is super appreciative of that…including me.  Rather than constantly worrying about creating safety through control, I’m changing my definition of safety and remembering my God, who has me in His hands…that’s really the only safety assurance I need.  (coming to terms…a process!)
  • Just because I have a great imagination and may have determined exactly how something will play out does not make my determination accurate.  As a matter of fact, following my imaginary scenario results in the aforementioned emotional reactivity which I strongly desire to move away from.
  • I may have missed a few spectacular opportunities because of my own reactivity.  I have embraced the icky lessons, asked forgiveness (from myself too), defined what I can do different next time and moved on with grace.  I still hate myself a little bit for it though.
  • Unrelated….the stroke has less power over me than it once did but still too much power.  Working on that.  Trying to replace my fear with constant faith and gratitude.  Keeping my eyes and heart open…I am incredibly blessed and I know it.

“Sometimes we reveal ourselves when we are least like ourselves.” – Anais Nin  It is remarkable what I have learned through the errors that are ‘so unlike me’.

 

Grateful in all things.

Reflections

This morning, I was looking through old emails…trying to find answers to something within myself. I found this gem…written November 10, 2017…the night after I met someone who became very special to me. Unfortunately, the beginning was far better than the middle to the end. However, even this ugliness was a gift to me in that I learned countless lessons about myself and what I want/don’t want for my heart.  Looking back, I can see my own growth as well as some of the choices I made that were out of a very unhealthy place. Out of this little quote taken from one of the emails…

“I’m naturally inquisitive; about myself and others. I am trying to discern where all of this is coming from and why I’m feeling such a strong connection with you after this itty bitty amount of time. I am so much more cautious than this and I am just wanting to make sure I am not searching for validation outside of God and myself. Like….my biggest part of this divorce journey is to surrender to God and have a relationship with him that is stronger than ever and to love myself and not ‘need’ to get that love from someone else. I hope I am making some sense””

Instant strong connections can be a gift. They can also be something that fills an empty in us that is not meant to be filled by another person.  Know yourself.  Search yourself deeply and with nothing less than brutal honesty.  If I had done this then,  I might have saved myself some heartache. I also would’ve lost out on a beautiful opportunity to raise my thinking to a higher level, no regrets.  Still…lesson learned.

Reflecting on my own words; it would’ve been wise for me to give pause to my knowing.  “I am so much more cautious than this and I am just wanting to make sure I am not searching for validation outside of God and myself.”  I knew the question but I did not take time to consider my answer.  As a matter of fact, I was asking the other party (who I had just met) for an answer to something incredibly deep within myself.  My behavior in that moment was so opposite of my usual.  Granted, there is freedom in getting outside of our comfort zones but I had lost all rationality and begun operation on an emotionally charged high within a day.  In answer to the question…YES!, I was seeking validation outside of God and myself and seeking it instead in a man, in essence, a stranger,  who I shared mutual desire with.  Acting out of this place is an excellent way to shout, “I’M HERE!  I’M VULNERABLE!  TAKE ME, WANT ME, CRAVE ME, LOVE ME!” as well as a silent conveyance…”I’m hungry, I’m needy, I’m naive and I’m yours.  Lesson learned (or at least, notes taken.)  As a very wise man recently asked me; “isn’t it interesting what we seek when our hearts are bleeding?”

“My biggest part of this divorce journey is to surrender to God and have a relationship with him that is stronger than ever and to love myself and not “need” to get that love from someone else.”  Gut level honesty….God and I are working together on this. (or perhaps I am working on not playing the ‘come closer, now go away game with God).   I have endless questions and possibly some accusations for Him.  It’s okay, I truly believe God would rather have my vulnerability and truth than my sugar coated lies…it’s not like I can hide my heart from him anyway.

The hardest part…loving myself and not ‘needing’ someone to fill that need in me.  I actually think the not needing comes pretty natural. I tend to be more independent than not, I like my alone time and I have my children and school to focus on…I can strategically document all of the reasons I do not “need” that sort of love.  As I relearn who I am, and recreate my story,  it is evident that my self-love is increasing, and as it does…the things I seek in others are changing.  It’s also becoming clear that I can’t avoid being the relational person that I am and that my soul longs for a kind of love that is full acceptance, mutual cherishing, soothing and hot….all in one.  Someday.  As I wait… I learn, I experiment, I play, I grow and I honor myself, ‘as is’.  Such a time of self-discovery truly is a gift.

 Life is full of dichotomies.    My ex-husband (aka dear friend) and I spoke about the story of the Two Wolves.  It’s always  been a favorite.

Two Wolves

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

He was gracious enough to share with me his belief that he had chosen to feed the evil wolf for much of our marriage and he cautioned me that the relationship I had just left was the same in that manner.  Different circumstances…same wolf being fed.  We giggled at the funny, not funny similarities.  Both times…I was the wolf food.  Both times, I opted to ignore the things that hurt for an in the moment reward. Again, funny, not funny.

Surely joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith (all characteristics of pure love) are more powerful than anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.  I am going to do my damndest to see power only where power belongs.

Each lesson decreases the likelihood of my being appetizing wolf food, right?  That definitely makes sense.