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.
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Determined

My Stella is a glorious, wise 14 year old. Being her momma is an honor, and she makes life more fun.

She and I were on the bikes at the gym this morning. It was the last 1/2 of my workout and my mind started it’s little “I don’t wanna” conversation. My legs are burning, I can’t, this is too hard, etc.

I looked over at Stella and she is peddling hard. Her expression was sheer determination. She caught my eye, took out one earbud and said, “mom, your ride is almost finished, you need to dig in and push through to beat yesterday’s mileage!

And all of a sudden, I forgot about my negative inner dialogue, dug in, pedaled hard and pushed through.

That Stella is a tough coach but a natural motivator. I was thankful for her encouragement (a little scared too!).

Tonight I’m laying in bed making a mental list of all the things I have or have not pushed through. I can’t think of one thing that didn’t have more value as a result of my pushing through the temporary discomfort or pain to get to the other side.

Just a little encouragement…remember the pain or discomfort can act to propel us to a higher level and help us learn so much.

Keep going.

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.❤️