Without judgement and from my heart….
I recently dated someone who ended up in a relationship with a married woman. …because you know, her husband is a total ‘ass’ so she is seeking her solace outside of her marriage. Not in counseling, or in a divorce, or in honesty but in an affair. The man I dated, I don’t know wtf he is thinking and it’s not my concern but it is so heavy on my heart. There are countless unmarried people…so help me understand the why. (Don’t really help me, I know the general why’s and none of them are good)
Then, recently,someone who was very dear to me flirted endlessly and felt justified doing so because they are in a horrible, sexless, loveless marriage. This is sad, I totally get it. Again, get to a counselor, talk to God, talk to your friends, divorce…just stop the cheating because I promise, nothing good will come of it and I certainly am not going to play that game.
BTW, hitting on me and offering sex to me is not generally the way to my heart and if you are in a relationship, I feel like you are a predator and I am the prey. This is especially not the way to my heart. It makes me feel dirty and I hate feeling that way.
This stuff just makes me sick to my stomach and if I could encourage one person to make a better choice, I will. If you are already in the middle of infidelity, it happens. It’s also a great opportunity to seek help and get honest…especially with yourself.
Also, I’m not speaking to those who choose open relationships, I’m speaking to those where it’s a super secret.
Lots of love, I promise. Just not a pretty topic.
Sitting in my group psychotherapy class, in a group….it’s my turn to share. We had each made a collage with images or words that symbolized our spiritual life, gender role, sexual orientation, masks we wear, an identity not mentioned that was important to us and a few other things.
We had been a little bit focused on the topic of death, namely, how our lives would change if we knew we only had 10 years left to live. There were discussions of dropping out of grad school, deciding no children could be birthed if there were only 10 years with them, and support for having kids even though because the experience was so valuable. It wasn’t my turn to speak yet, my mind was spinning with thoughts. 10 years! 10 years? TEN YEARS! What a gift! I thought back to the stroke in 2009 and how terrified I was to die. If someone promised me 10 more years from now, it would almost be a relief. Then I could stop wondering how much more time I had with my people and in this life. Ten years seems awfully precious when I consider that no one actually knows if they even have the next moment.
The question was posed directly to me, “What was the hardest thing on your collage for you?” I began sharing; “You see, in 2009, I had a massive stroke, I had to learn to walk again.” Having my own mortality in my face like that and realizing how precious it was to be able to walk contributes well to thinking that 10 more years is a gift. Our professor remarked, “Gosh, you are almost 10 years out from that stroke.” I am! I hadn’t even thought of that, and somehow it seems like something that I should celebrate even more than I do every other year.
(SIDENOTE: I know I drive others crazy with my selfie taking and insistence on picture taking during nearly anything. My classmates were fussing about precisely this at lunch today, thus, I explained to them the why’s of my insistence.
My Daddy lost his memories with his Alzheimer’s. I recognized from that how very important pictures were in helping tell him stories, whether he recalled or not, we remembered precious moments. Also, after the stroke, I lost a few big chunks of memories that I treasure. In looking at pictures or videos, it will often trigger a memory recollection that I had lost. Lastly, I NEVER took a selfie until after my divorce. I’m truly not vain. However, I do cherish memories and know it is possible to lose them. This is why I like to have so many pictures. The selfies….they help me remember where I’ve been and how far (usually) I’ve come.)
I continued, “So, the hardest thing on this collage is the blank spot on the bottom left corner. It is blank because I couldn’t find the word.” “I was looking for the word chosen“.
This ties in with my ideas of spirituality. I can trust the process. I can trust that I am right where I am meant to be. I can trust that I have a bright future ahead. I can trust God. “The reason that chosen ties in with this seems insignificant but I know it’s not.” In my heart, I know that I have been chosen for many things that I am not deserving of. I am healthy, whole and breathing, for a start.
I explained in detail, “When I look back and see how God has put the puzzle pieces together, I know He is trustworthy. In hindsight, He is good. However, for the future, I struggle with this whole trust thing hugely. There are two driving factors to my thinking.
First, I am not really sure that the desires of my heart are worth His time, or the plan, or whatever. Second, I still grapple with the lifetime thoughts that I am not worth it. Period. That said, I took a deep breath and shared what my deepest desire was.
I absolutely want to share my life with a mate. This is terrifying to me. I explained, “My ex-husband is my best friend, we were together for 23 years and I don’t want to lose that friendship.” Hard questions followed and the tears that had started flowing the minute I spoke hadn’t stopped. I decided that my vulnerability in this moment was a good thing, even if it totally sucked. I know (believe) that when I give my heart to someone, the relationship between my ex and I will need to change.
We will always be important to one another, and we will always have a friendship and co-parent our precious children. However, we still at times share the intimate nature of friendship that I feel belongs in a relationship. No more romance but all of the deep connection. It’s weird. I just know deep down that will change; and although it could be very positive, it’s super scary. For 23 years, we have been there for one another. Who will ever know me so well? I don’t know how to navigate any of this so even thinking about the possibilities makes me want to throw up in my mouth.
Despite these fears, I long for that intimate, soul sharing connection with the man who I hope exists not just in my heart and mind. I pray my desires aren’t denied. I don’t like saying any of this. It’s quite uncomfortable. I do not ‘need’ a man. If it is true that I want my own fairy tale, I am resentful of even wanting that. I recognize that my fears are holding me back and I am trying my damnedest to work my way out of them.
Back to the word, “chosen“…let me paint what this looks like to me. I want to be the woman that is not second choice to another woman and is in competition with no one. I want to choose and be chosen; to cherish and be cherished; to treasure and be treasured; to accept and be accepted; to trust and be trusted; and to passionately love and be passionately loved. All with the wildness and naturalness we are capable of.
Whether my hair is long or short, my booty is flat or bubblicious, whether my emotions are a jumbled mess or I am steady as a surgeon’s hand…just see me (an my people) and love me (us) right there, just like that. Just as I am (we are).
Is that a crazy notion? I want to give these things right back, in the manner they are needed. I guess this is my version of a fairy tale. I went to the restroom and cleaned of my mascara stained face, then returned to my desk. I picked up my pen and began an unfiltered 3 page list of what had happened or changed in my life in the past 10 years. Just look at this…
2009 – 2019
- Celebratory 1 year ‘birthday’ party on the strokeaversary. Celebrations on year 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 as well. I will always celebrate November 9 as a second birthday because it was a second chance that forever changed me for the better.
- Surgical repair of a paten foramen ovale (hole in my heart suspected to have caused stroke)
- My babies are 9 years older. They are 17 and 14. Just wow.
- Infidelity in my marriage
- 3 years of intense marriage therapy and growth
- Started grad school (which I will complete 1 month after my 10th year celebration!)
- A special journey of self discovery…still in process.
- Had my only two relationships other than my marriage after divorce. One great, one yuck. Learning to date.
- Grappled with God. Alot.
- Grappled with self. Alot.
- My Daddy battled with Alzheimer’s. He passed away. I miss him.
- Went through and graduated Pathways.
- Learned more effective ways of dealing with my anxieties and fears.
- Lost weight. Gained weight. Lost weight.
- Learning to love myself.
- Almost lost home due to foreclosure.
- New and old animals.
- Worked at Jenks public schools, Sooner Start, Life, Autumn Leaves and I’m sure I’m missing something.
- Learning the value of letting go, letting go and letting go.
- Became stronger, wiser, taller, braver, more cognizant of reality and less apt to live in a fantasy land.
- Continue learning every day.
- Lost and made and regained and didn’t regain friendships.
- Endless hugs and kisses, even more heart to heart moments.
- Drove (all by myself) to Dallas, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri.
- Finding my voice in a positive way.
- Practicing gratitude more than ever.
- Stepped out of my comfort zone a billion times.
- Crossed items off bucket list, including getting fired from Whole Foods!
- Learning who I am as a grown woman.
- Treat myself with love and respect more than ever.
- Gardened until my fingers and feet were mud stained.
- Cooked a trillion meals.
- Watched my Momma move out of our family home and into a new home.
- Stopped sugar and processed foods.
- Watched more precious nieces and nephews graduate, get married, have babies, enjoy first careers and more. Added the role of friend in with aunt.
- Learned that I am strong. I am a survivor.
- Finding my path to joy and freedom (it’s a journey.)
- Learned to love the word fuck. As in fuckity, fuck, fuck, fuck….because sometimes it’s the only appropriate word even for a princess. (really a Sailor Sarah)
- Experienced two fabulous years of marriage that placed hope in my heart for beautiful things.
- Put dreams into action, see some coming to fruition.
- Experienced countless storms, rainy days, splashed in puddles, danced, sang, laughed, cried, embraced, shared, found the deepest pain and the most radiant joy, focused on passions, wrote, cooked, held hands with dying people, held new born babies, manicures, pedicures, massages, listened to music, had my eyes opened to the beauty of diversity, loved hard….an endless list.
- I’m still breathing.
I’m breathing. What a miracle I am. What a miracle we all are. This gift of life is one I can barely grasp. What did I do to deserve the goodness of being here and of being me? Chosen. Yes. Want to be chosen in other ways? Yes.
So ya…10 years. An amazing gift.
In an ideal world, we would all seek healing within rather than distract ourselves with outside adventures.
This is not in reference to my past marriage, there is healing there. Nor is this a judgement or criticism to any party (current or past) to an affair.
It’s simply a topic I am passionate about and one I have lived.
If one knew the lifelong hurt that was being caused by being involved in an affair in any way, maybe they’d seek healing instead. Someone will be hurt, most often innocent kids. There’s no way around the consequences.
God, the universe, however you want to say it, will never send you someone’s spouse as your newest flame. Maybe life is testing your resolve and giving you an opportunity to seek healing. Who knows?
Learn how affairs work, do your research. I bet you’ll find that your situation is described well in research.
If you are the third party, you know that the unsuspecting spouse is a horrific asshole for some reason or other. It is likely that this connection between the two of you feels lighter, more playful, and exciting than any other. That’s the result of living in a fantasy world when planning your next secret getaway is your biggest hardship. There are no bills, no difficult children, no no marital woes or other stressors to deal with. Its pure playtime. It is a lie. You are a lie. The manipulation, control and toxicity will grow and you will find yourself a puppet on a string. Read the statistics. That day will most likely never come that they leave their partner for you, and if it does…how deep will the trust between you be? You are different…until something better comes along. Truth…they are using you. You are a pleasant distraction.
If you are the cheating partner, you are so focused on this easy fantasy connection that to distracts deeply from the pain/hurt/boredom/etc in your real relationship. Rather than do the hard work of counseling or the really hard work of leaving, or the devastating work of taking accountability…you live perpetuating lies. Lie to your spouse, your kids and definitely to your lover; who probably believes you’ve never loved anyone like you’ve loved them. You have them convinced that your spouse is terrible and you are fully theirs as soon as you leave. Open your eyes, look deep inside. Lies are your life and eventually, you’ll trip up and get caught. You will be so exhausted on that day that truth will be a painful relief. Nothing will prepare you for the look on your partner and children’s face when they learn the truth.
If you are the unsuspecting partner, your world is getting ready to be turned inside out upside down. And if you are children involved on either side, I’m so sorry for the pain your heart will feel when you find out that one of your parents has willingly caused this pain. Even if it feels like that parent “cheated” on you too, remember they aren’t perfect and they love you, even if it feels different. You are and we’re worth better decisions being made on your behalf. I’m sorry that those who were to advocate for and protect you, hurt you instead.
Each party is worth more than being a secret and a statistic. Each child is worthy of a parents integrity, honesty and protection.
Just think. Who are you? There is no shame in seeking help or getting out but I beg you, don’t participate in the infidelity game.
My internal world has been filled with an abundance of “AHEM” moments today. AHEM moments don’t feel like the progress I like to feel after I’ve done the hard work of processing; they have yet to lead me to any “AHA” moments; and honestly, those are usually my goal. AHEM moments are more like scathing, scary, scolding, self scuffling conversations that go on constantly between my head and my heart. These moments are anxiety provoking…the kind of anxiety where although I continue to be productive and sufficiently distracted with work, there is the constant gnawing in my belly, the lump in my throat and the uptight breathing that accompanies the tense certainty that everything cannot be as okay as it seems. I went through my day, doing the business of living and forgetting to find my place of surrender, my calm center, my joy…I just go and go and go as fast as I can. No matter how much I do or how amazingly efficient I am, the chatter in the background will.not.stop! That’s my day today.
Writing, praying, reflecting and sharing are healing for me, and I know there is something deep inside of me in need of healing as I write this or my heart wouldn’t be so overflowing with trepidation in this moment. Selfishly, I’m ‘getting it out’ in hopes of being rewarded with peace. Altruistically speaking, I hope the reader gleams some sort of self awareness from reading.
- I made a decision a couple of weeks ago to do something totally out of character for me…I think. As I ponder my actions more, I consider the possibility that this was absolutely something within my character but something I’ve never felt the freedom to do.
- I had a hard and precious conversation with my ex husband today (I still feel as if I am speaking of someone else when I say those words…I’m working on owning them). We are at a place of peace and we are able to ask questions of one another, this is beautiful but does not make the answers easier to bear.
- I have had to distance myself from someone precious in my life in order to guard my own heart. Boundary setting sucks.
- It is less than a month away from the 9th anniversary of the stroke and just a few days away from what would be our 19th wedding anniversary. My soul reverberates the echoes of what my mind wants nothing to do with.
- I’ve been playing Words with Friends when I need a little break. One of the men I have been playing with invited me to download an app on my phone today so we could ‘talk naughty’ to each other. (I don’t know him, he is a ‘random’ stranger from the game). I don’t really believe in random and after I found out his story, my belief that there are no accidents has been confirmed. He is married and wanted to be honest with me, but felt that ‘talking dirty’ wasn’t a big deal. He asked if I thought it was and I let him know that I guess that depended on where your personal boundaries were and that mine would not permit me to engage in these conversations with a married man. We talked further, I shared with him my heart on the matter and my own story. I encouraged him to find out what was missing within himself or his marriage and not go down this road, no matter how innocent the intentions were. I don’t know what he will do, but I pray that our ‘meeting’ was of value to his heart.
- We celebrated my beautiful sister Beth’s 60th birthday this weekend. I have no words sufficient to describe the fullness in my heart that the love within my family provides to me. No words. No matter how many years go by, when I am naming my siblings, I always feel like I leave one out. It’s my big brother Brent and he definitely left an empty space. I celebrate his life in partiality by always ‘counting him in’. My Daddy would’ve loved the party thrown for Beth, and he would’ve been immensely proud of all of us. I miss him so.
- I have haunting background thoughts that tell me I will never be the object of a worthy man’s love, that having extra pounds makes me less than valuable, that I will get Alzheimers and not have enough money to have good care, that I won’t fulfill my purpose before I die….all of these crappy lies that won’t go away. I don’t actually know if they are truth or lies, I do know that I am living my purpose right here and now, that I will have everything I need when I need it and that God’s plan is much better than my own. I KNOW these things deep down but when the shouting between my head and heart gets louder than my knowing, I forget my truth.
So here I am….dancing with my shadows but the shadows mean that there is light, so I know I am okay. That’s an AHA moment and the only one I really need right now.
I AM WOMAN
To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace;
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time…
I mentioned recently that I am a late bloomer. This persona goes with this whole “old soul'”, “wise for my age”, “good girl” theme that I was dropped smack in the middle of on September 5, 1972 (this would be the day of my birth). This has always been a belief about myself that I bought into…until recently.
Sometimes, one’s world is turned upside down by the uncontrollable circumstances of life. Personally, things that have rocked my world in the past few years include, but are not limited to:
- Walking through Alzheimer’s disease with my precious Father and losing him after he bravely battled it for 12 years. Every day in Alzheimer’s land is a day that you say goodbye in some way to your loved one and hello to a new change in them.
- Infidelity, followed by three years of intense therapy with my ex husband
- A divorce from my best friend after 23 years together
- A big move for my beautiful Momma out of our family home and into her new home (which is lovely by the way)
- Helping children cope. Children teaching me to be a grown up. Welcome to teen world. Enough said.
- A couple of career changes
- Financial stress, financial stress, financial stress
- Weight loss, weight gain and now onto loss again
Goodness knows, there is much more. This is an excellent starter list though. Surprisingly, I’m still here to tell my story and for that, my gratitude is overwhelming.
There are “firsts” happening too:
- There have been a couple of dates for me. Shocking, but dating at 19 is a completely different game than dating at 45.
- My kiddos are experiencing tons of “firsts”…growing up; junior high; high school, dates (kind of); and all the challenges that accompany their experiences
- I have begun graduate school, tonight as a matter of fact
- I have a new career that I treasure!
- New friends. I feel like I am in college all over again with the new friends I am making. I was just discussing with one of them (my new friends) how cool the process is; we agreed that there is a feeling that some of the friendships we are forming now, in our 40’s, are forged for a lifetime.
- I am making grown up decisions for myself without regard (or less regard) to the judgement’s of others. This is a drastic change for me.
- I’m working on replacing words like shame, guilt and should’s with surrender, forgiveness and healing.
- I am letting my mistakes be what they are…a growing experience that does not indicate I cannot accept myself with imperfections.
So….back to the late bloomer. I have come to the conclusion that I’m not ‘late’ afterall. I have certainly not arrived. I am simply journeying along, just like we all are. I wrote out Ecclesiastes 3 because it’s always been a favorite of mine, yet it’s only now that it seems to apply to my own life. (I know…forgive my recent egocentricity.) I am viewing myself in a different light. There is a path ahead of me that is full of beauty and delight, I get to decide (generally speaking) which directions I will go.
During a party I recently attended, I watched in awe as several beautiful women danced to the song, “I am Woman” by Helen Reddy. The lyrics fit where I am right now beautifully…..
“I am woman, hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore, and I know too much to go back or pretend cause I’ve heard it all before and I’ve been down on the floor No one’s ever gonna keep me down again. Oh yes, I am wise, but it’s wisdom born of pain, yes I’ve paid the price, but look how much I’ve gained. If I have to, I can do anything. I AM STRONG. I AM INVINCIBLE. I AM WOMAN. You can bend but never break me cause’ it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal and I come back even stronger not a novice any longer cause you’ve deepened the conviction in my soul. (chorus) I am woman watch me grow see me standing toe to toe as I spread my lovin’ arms across the land. But I’m still an embryo with a long long way to go, until I make my brother understand. (chorus)
Yep…this is right where I am and right where I am is EXACTLY where I am supposed to be.