Never Settle…Enjoy the Ride of Your Life

I used to be filled with anxiety. My fear…dying. Every day, I woke up wondering if that was the day I would die. I lived in fear. One day, I realized, I was afraid to die because I had not made the most of my life. I never embraced the real me. Always did what I thought I was supposed to do. I was sad, I was afraid and I felt so lonely.

I decided to make an incredible journey. I took my life back. It was the scariest thing I had ever done, but I learned to take my shoes off and feel the earth under my feet again. I let me hair go wild. I took off the make up and embraced my natural self. And I took that great big bucket that was heaping full of insecurity and tossed it in my newly found, dumpster size, fuck it bucket.

As a single woman, I had people ask me about finding a companion. Finding someone so I didn’t have to be alone. Honestly, for a while, I felt the need to find someone so I didn’t have to go through life alone. But, as my journey continued, that idea of companionship got tossed in that fuck it bucket. I didn’t want just a companion. I wanted it all. I wanted friendship, passion, craziness and adventure. Nothing less would be good enough for me. I want to be with someone with whom I can stay young, as my age increases. I deserve that.

We do only have one life. But I realized, time I thought I had wasted was really not wasted at all. That was the time spent in that long line for the most awesome ride ever. That was time preparing for what was to come. I got stronger. My fuck it bucket started to fill up. My straight path of doing what I thought I should be doing, well, it curved a bit so I could follow my own path.

Friends and family made me realize I wasn’t alone. I started to really get that I loved the time to myself. As much as I would have loved to have shared it with a partner, I didn’t want to settle and just share it with anyone. And I realized I could wait for it. In the meantime, I would figure myself out and love the single life. The longer I was single, the pickier I was about a partner. It was going to take someone awful special and strong to be with someone that knows their worth. I would need to find someone that was okay with my independence and okay with me doing things with my friends and family. Who was strong enough to handle my strong will.

I wouldn’t settle for anything less than someone who made me feel alive. Someone who gives me butterflies and someone I can picture myself salsa dancing with when we are in our 70s or 80s. Anything less, would be settling. And I deserve it all.

When I met my partner, I didn’t think much of it. I wasn’t really looking for anything. I was still working on myself. He was fun. We had an amazing time, but I wasn’t looking towards the future. But then something happened. The more we talked, the more the friendship built. I was learning I could say anything to him. I could be completely myself, and he never flinched. The butterflies started coming. We would spend hours on the phone while he was headed to work. He called every morning. We would talk while he drove and I got ready for work. It was a really nice routine and we never ran out of things to talk about. When I travelled to Italy, we talked almost every day. When COVID hit, it was a little different but we still kept communication open. I went through really tough times through COVID. I felt alone. I had my friends and family. But everyone was staying far away. Our relationships continued through computer screens. He was my constant. He saw the worst of me. The me that isn’t always happy. And he didn’t waiver. I started playing golf so we could get out and see something other than my house. We had so much fun.

He moved in at the beginning of this year. We have had adjustments, but one thing has not changed. We never stop talking. We listen to each other. We are really good at communication. And…I still get butterflies. I love the smile on his face when I walk in the room. I look at him and I never feel like I settled. I never expected to feel this way when he first approached me. But, I look into our future and I see two really old people acting like teenagers, salsa dancing in the kitchen.

Life is a wild ride. I used to try to control everything and had a plan, well, my plan was what I thought others wanted for me. But I’m not a planner. So, I think I will put my hands up, scream and laugh, and enjoy the ride I am on. And I can’t picture doing this ride with anyone else.

Boundaries, the Path to Healthy Relationships

I’ve been reading a book about boundaries and self care. It has made me step back and look at the boundaries I set and how I accept the boundaries other people set. When reflecting on my life I realize just how far I have come.

I never used to have boundaries. Self care was almost non-existent. My life was about living for other people. This was my own fault. I never created boundaries. Never asked for what I needed. I spent so much time feeling like I needed to be the perfect wife and mother (I most definitely was not). I felt like I was running around supporting everyone else and just never really looked at what I needed.

I was afraid to speak up for myself. Not because I thought people wouldn’t love me for not being able to go to every game or be at every coaching event. But I was afraid I would feel like a failure for not being perfect. The truth is, I gave up boundaries for others. I didn’t understand that the root of my anxiety was, most likely, my lack of boundaries. I didn’t understand my depression was, most likely, my lack of boundaries.

I realized that if someone set boundaries for me, I didn’t take it well. I took everthing as a rejection. I tried to find excuses as to why I wasn’t really overstepping boundaries. I couldn’t handle when people set boundaries for me.

I always thought boundaries were for my work. Make sure to always keep things confidential. Don’t develop personal friendships with clients. Don’t disclose personal information to clients. These were the only boundaries I knew.

This book didn’t teach me boundaries. I have been learning them. I have a group of girlfriends that are so open and honest. Our friendships are not about following what others are doing. It’s about being real with each other. We straighten each others’ crowns, but we are also honest with each other, even when it’s hard. If I have hurt one of them, they tell me. I never intend to hurt anyone, but sometimes, we go through things and hurt people unknowingly. When my girlfriends have confronted me with what I have done, I have not tried to make excuses for my behavior and I have apologized. And I will admit, it feels good to accept those boundaries. And they have also taught me that I can set boundaries of my own, and it doesn’t mean I have failed.

Setting boundaries is still hard for me. But I can tell my kids that I would love a schedule of their plans when they will be at my house. I can tell them when I need help. And they rise to the occassion.

At work, I’ve learned that I need to set boundaries too. Sometimes I try to work so hard and get everything done as fast as possible. However, I have learned that I burn out if I keep going without a break. So, I have learned to take work at an even pace and work and make sure I am focused on doing the work throughly. If it isn’t fast enough, it will just show that I need the help. When I am struggling, Iam comfortable going to my supervisor and telling her I am struggling. I used to work through lunch to keep working, but now, I always take my lunch break.

And my amazing partner has taught me it is safe to set boundaries with him. Setting boundaries has kept our communication wide open and that is so important. If I need something, I know I can tell him, and he doesn’t get angry, he doesn’t tell me I am being selfish and he doesn’t make me feel crazy. We figure it out in a healthy way. Because we can talk so openly, we make a great team.

What it comes down to, is boundaries open communication in any relationship. It teaches us to talk with the people in our lives about what we need. It also teaches us to look at ourselves and accept the boundaries others set for us. And ultimately, it is the recipe for an amazing relationship with yourself.

Blending

Life is a roller coaster.  Nothing is ever the same.  One moment, you’re enjoying vacations with your family, the next, your divorced, then you learn to love yourself and be completely content with living life with your family and friends and knowing you are not alone, even without a significant other.  And then, you meet someone, unexpectedly.  Life is filled with twists and turns, and sometimes even a loop-de-loop.  I have learned to raise my hands high and enjoy the roller coaster. 

So let’s chat about blended families.  Most of my girlfriends have younger kids.  The decision to introduce someone to the kids is huge, and you want to be careful with the kiddos of who you introduce.   With older kids, it’s a bit different.  My kids are only home during college breaks and the summer.  I really didn’t have to worry too much about introductions for a while.  But, one day, my daughter met him on accident.  He was trying to get out the door before she got home, but we were just enjoying chatting and lost track of time.  They met briefly.  It took a long time for me to really let him in and have her join us for dinner.  But once the meetings were intentional, I knew I had really let my walls down. 

I met his son too.  When he allowed us to meet, I knew he was letting his walls down too.  The intention of introductions to your kids feels huge.  There is the idea that you are that important that they want to share you with the most important people in their life.  Eventually, he met my son and I met his daughter.  Let the blending begin. 

When he moved in, he gave me phone numbers for his kids and his sisters, for emergencies.  I did the same for him.  I was really careful to not use them.  Blending and introducing young kids, I’m sure is super scary and challenging.  You have questions such is discipline and when to have sleep overs and leaving kids alone with the significant other and telling the other parent.  But, it’s difficult with adult children also.  Our kids have been so accepting.  That has not been a challenge at all.  We are both so fortunate to have children that want nothing more than to see their parents happy.  I love that about my kids and I love that about his kids.  But, my kids have a step mom (I have written about steps before), and she has never stepped on my toes as a mom.  Our kids are adults and they all have both their parents.  His kids have a mom.  My kids have a dad.  The challenge is to make sure the kids know you are not there to replace anyone.

I am someone who is in their lives because I love their dad to bits.  The three of us have a common desire, and that is to see their dad happy and smiling.  For that, I am so grateful to them.  I have no intentions of stepping on their toes.  I don’t need to be a mother to them.  They have a mom.  I would never want to replace that.  Just as I would never want someone to step in and replace me as a mom.  I will be there for them and be excited for their successes and want to support them through challenges, but when it comes to advice, I am here if they want it, but will never push anything on them. 

Meeting family has been amazing also.  My family has welcomed him with open arms.  They had been dying to meet the man that has put a smile on my face and allowed me to be completely myself.  It’s always scary introducing someone to the family.  But they love that he makes me happy. 

A month ago I went with him and his daughter and grandson to meet his sisters.  They were so completely welcoming.  They loved seeing their brother happy.  And to hear him talk about me, about the little notes I hide for him every morning, they could see his face light up.  His sisters and their families are amazing.  I loved hearing about their parents and growing up.  They pulled out family albums.  I just felt like I belonged.  We went to celebrate their father’s birthday.  The first birthday since he passed away.  I wanted to make sure I was respectful of that.  I stepped back from family pictures, so they could have their family moments.  They pulled me right in anyway. Blending…

Our families have not met, but we continue to grow together as a family unit. We continue to blend and I am loving every moment of it. I look forward to building relationships with his family and watching him build relationships with mine.

Chuck it in the F@$k It Bucket

Learning to let go of things that are not meant to be, is one of the most freeing things someone can do.  I was just catching up on FB and read a post by one of my friends.  Her journey of single life started around the same time mine did.  Our journeys are different, but it still resonated with me.  It was a time of reflection.  Exactly what did I chuck in the f@k it bucket.  What are the challenges I faced?  What have I accomplished?

That list is pretty extensive.  It’s a list I am so proud of.   The last 6 years have been such a test for me.  I had never lived on my own before.  I had never really dealt with “grown up” bills on my own. I was fortunate enough to never have needed to work at more than one job, until I lived on my own. At one time, I worked 3 jobs at a time. I had never been on a plane that went over the ocean. I had never made a long road trip on my own with the kids. And I had never realized it was okay to stop putting everyone else first for fear they wouldn’t like me anymore.  And I never thought I would ever, ever, ever, let anyone into my heart, much less my home and my family again. These are some of my greatest challenges, that have turned into some amazing accomplishments. 

I realized I was living a life of fear.  Fear of failure, fear of dying, fear of not being liked, fear of failing.  I was carrying a huge load on my shoulders. Most of us do.  It was time to lighten that load. 

As with many divorces, I had to move.  I live in a pretty expensive county and rent, on my private non-profit salary would have been unaffordable.  Leaving the area was not an option.  My kids are here.  My parents and my sister are here.  That’s my support.  With a lot of help from my superstar mom, I was able to purchase home.  And let me tell you, I love my home.  It’s the perfect size, in the perfect  location.

Bills. Ooooof. No fun at all. I didn’t know what was in our bank account. I had to open my own, to start separating things. It was scary. Taking over bills was not the scariest part. At first, they were split based off income. But, once the house was sold, all my bills were my responsibility. F@!ck it! Let’s do this. Face it head on.

When the kids were born, I quit my job and stayed home with them. I wanted to do that. It was something my mom did for my sister and I and I wanted, and had the luxury to be able to do it, Don’t get me wrong. When I say luxury, that, by no means, means it was a cake walk. It was hard. One of the hardest things in the world. But I never regreted it.

When my youngest started school full time I decided to volunteer for a local non-profit. I never had a clue it would lead me into a job that would be a huge part of my life and a source of strength, for the next 11 years. I had always thought I wouldn’t be able to go back to work. I never got my master’s degree. I felt like I wasn’t good enough for anything. But this job, was huge for me. When I moved to my new home, I could afford it, but being single and making friends means going out to meet people. That isn’t always cheap. I met someone that helped me get a job at a local distillery. What fun that was. I met so many new people I learned how to mix some delicious drinks. And I had a blast. But, a friend that had worked at the distillery started running the restaurant at a local golf course and needed help. So I became a cart girl at the course. 7 days a week, I worked, Did I mention my first job was sort of 24/7. I would get calls at all hours and took on call shifts on a regular basis. But, for one summer, I said f@!ck it, I need money to have some fun. So I worked 3 jobs, 7 days a week. It wore me down. Finally, despite knowing I was letting a good friend down, I had to say f@!ck it. I can’t do this anymore. I realized I had to focus on myself. I knew finding someone would not make her life easier and I was really frightened she would be upset with me. Not because she is likee that at all, but because that’s my fear. Letting someone down and them not liking me anymore. But guess what. She definitely still likes me and we are still friends and I adore her.

Did I ever mention a huge fear of flying? When I was married, we had an RV and travelled cross country. If I knew I had to get on a plane, I would have anxiety attacks for months. So, post divorce, my daughter’s flute choir planned a trip to tour the Tuscan region of Italy. F@!ck it! I am getting on a damn plane and flying across the ocean…not just with my daughter, but also with my sister. What an amazing trip. I have blogged about it, so I won’t go into details. But the experience I had, just by letting shit go. What’s next with international travel? I have my fingers crossed for some hiking in the mountains of Austria.

When I first got separated, my daughter’s flute choir was traveling to Orlando to play at Universal. We had all been planning to go, but it turned into me going with the kids and one of my son’s best friends. I said f@ck it. We drove to Disney first, then travelled to Universal. That was a trip I never would have thought I could have done by myself. My son and his friend drove a couple of hours, but I did most of the driving and it was so empowering. To do the parks and the drive with the kids was amazing.

Learning to say what I need to say, and not worry about whether it will make someone not like me has been one of my greatest challenges. I had to fall in love with myself to be able to see what kind of person I am and to be able to let go of people, if they couldn’t accept me for who I am. So…f@!ck it. Here I am. If you don’t like it, you can walk away at any time. If you don’t treat me well, I can walk away at any time. In these last several years I have found that I had an amazing foundation of a support system with my family and a few friends. And then I built onto that foundation with some equally amazing friends. I am surrounded with people who love me for who I am. Whe treat me the way I deserve to be treated. I’ll be honest, some of them don’t always say the easy things. I don’t always like what they say. But they always help me grow. They always encourage me to continue on my path of loving myself.

I dated for a while. Hated it. The dating world sucks. I had learned to live on my own and I found that no one was worthy of letting in. One guy mentioned moving in. I said no and he lost it. F@!ck it! That was scary. So long. So, I stopped looking. Then, one day, a random person completely changed my world. Well not at first. Walls were up. I had someone to hang out with. That enjoyed the same things as me. I told my girlfriends, he’s in a box. He was not going to overflow into my life. After a few months, my girls would laugh when I mentioned the box. It was a super flimsy box. But I spent a lot of time protecting myself. Protecting my heart. But the effort he put into us, just floored me. So, guess what…FUCK IT! Welcome to my heart, welcome to my home, welcome to my family.

Chucking my fears in the f@!ck it bucket has completely opened up my world. I still have fear. Sometimes it gets the best of me. But it is no longer the driving force in my life. Living my best life is the driving force now. It doesn’t come without risks. I know that. I don’t expect my life to be perfect. There are going to be some really hard things in life. In fact, there are challenging, scary things now. But I have the strength, the self-love, and the support to know that I can get through anything life throws at me,

Coming Out the Other Side…

It’s been a very long time since I have been able to convince myself to write. The last several months have been an uphill battle for me. I’ve spent many days on my couch and many nights crying. I have woken up with my eyes practically swollen shut. It’s hard to write while you are in the midst of an internal storm. It has been really hard for me to find the joy in life. With help from amazing people in my life that have really put up with a lot from me, I’m finding my way out of the dark.

It started when I found out my kids wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving. I had invited them for dinner, as I knew we wouldn’t have the normal family gathering and I would be alone. They informed me they would be staying in State College. That started a downward spiral for me. Feelings of loneliness. Feelings of being a waste of space. During these times, our worlds have all changed. When the lockdown first started I was doing video chats with friends and family. But then, I started realizing that seeing everyone through video just made me miss them more. I miss the face to face contact. I miss the hugs, the touches. I almost felt lonelier.

I started pulling away from everyone. I started to feel hurt and angry. And then people would tell me, you’re not the only one going through this. Believe me. I know I’m not. But that doesn’t make me feel better that other people are also struggling. We are all in this ocean, but we are all in different boats. Some days, my life raft is on a sunny ocean with a nice breeze, while someone else may be in the middle of a massive storm. Or vice versa. We are all going through it. But make no mistake, our boats are different. I don’t think mine is worse than someone else’s, but I am not about comparing. That does no good.

As Thanksgiving got closer, my mood got worse and worse. The anticipation of spending a day alone, when it’s always been a huge day of family football and food, was unbearable. But, the night before Thanksgiving, I found joy in one of the most unexpected places. I got a call from my kids’ stepmother. She and my ex-husband invited me over for Thanksgiving. I think one of my kids told them I would be alone. I declined and decided, with the weather being decent, I would go to my parent’s for dinner and eat with them outside. But, on Thanksgiving morning I got a call reminding about the invitation with my ex and his wife. When she called, she said her daughter was so excited to see Fifi’s mom and picked out a special outfit for me. How could I resist. So, I decided to go up there before dinner and hang out with them for a few hours.

When I walked into their house, I can’t tell you how amazing it was to get this huge hug, holding nothing back, from a 6 year old. I didn’t want to let go. It was amazing!!!! And hugs from the rest of the family were great too. I have been missing that physical touch so much. You don’t realize how much you need it until you don’t have it anymore.

Thanksgiving ended up being way better than I anticipated. I could feel myself doing better. But not all the way there. I knew I still had Christmas and New Years alone. But Christmas Day is normally a day alone. The anticipation wasn’t near as bad as Thanksgiving. But the days themselves were pretty hard. A couple weeks prior to Christmas, we had a huge loss in our family when we had to say goodbye to our family dog, Spyder. I felt angry that I couldn’t be with friends or family. I wasn’t really angry at them, but at the situation. I have been a bear to deal with, and I know it. And I am sorry for that. But, I have also found some joy during this season that has been unexpected. After Thanksgiving, I have spent more time with my ex-husband and his wife. We got through the loss of our family dog together. We spent a day decorating cookies when my daughter got home from school. It’s been a blessing.

I have had a wonderful time visiting with my kids. Oh how I had missed them. It had been way too long since I had seen them. My daughter caught me in a bad moment of tears. She was amazing. She helped me to realize I had lots of tools to get through these times, but I had to readjust how I used my tools and find soe new ones that work through social distancing. So, I am committing to journaling and exercising and taking care of myself more. While feeling better won’t happen completely over night, at least I can be more in control of how I respond to my emotions.

What I have learned from the last couple of months is that I won’t feel bad for having all the feels. I know others are struggling to. It’s not a competition for who has it worse. Let’s just all acknowledge how difficult this is for all of us and try to wrok together. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel alone. It’s okay to realize your emotional toolbox needs to be adjusted becauses not all your tools may work anymore.

Coming Out the Other Side…

It’s been a very long time since I have been able to convince myself to write. The last several months have been an uphill battle for me. I’ve spent many days on my couch and many nights crying. I have woken up with my eyes practically swollen shut. It’s hard to write while you are in the midst of an internal storm. It has been really hard for me to find the joy in life. With help from amazing people in my life that have really put up with a lot from me, I’m finding my way out of the dark.

It started when I found out my kids wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving. I had invited them for dinner, as I knew we wouldn’t have the normal family gathering and I would be alone. They informed me they would be staying in State College. That started a downward spiral for me. Feelings of loneliness. Feelings of being a waste of space. During these times, our worlds have all changed. When the lockdown first started I was doing video chats with friends and family. But then, I started realizing that seeing everyone through video just made me miss them more. I miss the face to face contact. I miss the hugs, the touches. I almost felt lonelier.

I started pulling away from everyone. I started to feel hurt and angry. And then people would tell me, you’re not the only one going through this. Believe me. I know I’m not. But that doesn’t make me feel better that other people are also struggling. We are all in this ocean, but we are all in different boats. Some days, my life raft is on a sunny ocean with a nice breeze, while someone else may be in the middle of a massive storm. Or vice versa. We are all going through it. But make no mistake, our boats are different. I don’t think mine is worse than someone else’s, but I am not about comparing. That does no good.

As Thanksgiving got closer, my mood got worse and worse. The anticipation of spending a day alone, when it’s always been a huge day of family football and food, was unbearable. But, the night before Thanksgiving, I found joy in one of the most unexpected places. I got a call from my kids’ stepmother. She and my ex-husband invited me over for Thanksgiving. I think one of my kids told them I would be alone. I declined and decided, with the weather being decent, I would go to my parent’s for dinner and eat with them outside. But, on Thanksgiving morning I got a call reminding about the invitation with my ex and his wife. When she called, she said her daughter was so excited to see Fifi’s mom and picked out a special outfit for me. How could I resist. So, I decided to go up there before dinner and hang out with them for a few hours.

When I walked into their house, I can’t tell you how amazing it was to get this huge hug, holding nothing back, from a 6 year old. I didn’t want to let go. It was amazing!!!! And hugs from the rest of the family were great too. I have been missing that physical touch so much. You don’t realize how much you need it until you don’t have it anymore.

Thanksgiving ended up being way better than I anticipated. I could feel myself doing better. But not all the way there. I knew I still had Christmas and New Years alone. But Christmas Day is normally a day alone. The anticipation wasn’t near as bad as Thanksgiving. But the days themselves were pretty hard. A couple weeks prior to Christmas, we had a huge loss in our family when we had to say goodbye to our family dog, Spyder. I felt angry that I couldn’t be with friends or family. I wasn’t really angry at them, but at the situation. I have been a bear to deal with, and I know it. And I am sorry for that. But, I have also found some joy during this season that has been unexpected. After Thanksgiving, I have spent more time with my ex-husband and his wife. We got through the loss of our family dog together. We spent a day decorating cookies when my daughter got home from school. It’s been a blessing.

I have had a wonderful time visiting with my kids. Oh how I had missed them. It had been way too long since I had seen them. My daughter caught me in a bad moment of tears. She was amazing. She helped me to realize I had lots of tools to get through these times, but I had to readjust how I used my tools and find soe new ones that work through social distancing. So, I am committing to journaling and exercising and taking care of myself more. While feeling better won’t happen completely over night, at least I can be more in control of how I respond to my emotions.

What I have learned from the last couple of months is that I won’t feel bad for having all the feels. I know others are struggling to. It’s not a competition for who has it worse. Let’s just all acknowledge how difficult this is for all of us and try to wrok together. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to feel alone. It’s okay to realize your emotional toolbox needs to be adjusted becauses not all your tools may work anymore.

Steps…Hard Work but Beautiful Views

Have you ever climbed the steps to the top of a lighthouse? It is really tough climbing those steps. But when you get to the top, the views are beautiful. But those are not the steps I am writing about today.

Most of my girlfriends are divorced. The idea of their exes bringing a new woman into the lives of their children is scary. Every experience is different, but I can share mine…

I can remember when I came to terms with the fact that this new person was in my ex’s life, and would be in my kids’ lives. I can’t lie. I was angry, hurt, scared. How is it fair that some stranger gets to spend half of my kids’ lives with them? I am their mom. It is unfair that I only see them half the time. I was hurt that my kids accepted her into their lives. I was scared they would love her more, and forget I was their mom. Reality has a way of slapping you in the face.

I can also remember when she first started coming to watch my kids play sports. It was the hardest thing in the world. I would sit in the bleachers, quietly, with tears in my eyes. When my daughter would look up to her, in the stands, my heart sank. I felt like I was losing her. Like my fears were becoming reality.

My daughter started coming to the house with cute new clothes. Was she taking her shopping? It broke my heart to think another woman was taking on a maternal role for my kids. It was probably the scariest thing I have ever faced.

My first step to acceptance, being grateful that she was coming to support my kids in their sports. She must like my kids to bring her very young daughter out, close to bed time, to support my kids. My daughter, looking at her in the stands, means my daughter feels loved. It was a step forward.

But then my daughter said it…she called her her stepmom (they weren’t even married yet), and she called her daughter, her sister. Honestly speaking, those words were so hard to hear. The fear started sinking in again. I mean, the word mom is in stepmom, so I was being replaced, right? My insecurities said yes. It was time to regroup.

I had to step back and realize, I was in rough shape. I wasn’t capbable of having a meaningful relationship. It was clear in my insecurites when dating. All my baggage was stopping me from opening up to anyone. It was the same with my kids. My insecurity was toxic. I cried a lot. My kids had a hard time seeing me so unhappy. It was never supposed to be their job to make me happy. That was something only I could do.

At the time, I relied so much on my parents and my sister and her family. I really didn’t have anyone else. I had friends at work who I could talk with openly, but when I did talk, I would cry, and that was not condusive for working. So, I found some girlfriends…nope, a tribe. A group of other divorced women who were going through or had been through this. These friendships were so fulfilling. They brought happiness to my life. I had to step out of my comfort zone to meet them and I had to open my heart to trust them. But the reward was true happiness. I became a different person….

I became a person my kids felt comfortable to be around again. I become fun. I smiled, I laughed. By this time, my kids were both in college. But I could look back and see, I never lost them. They never replaced me. What I learned was that they did not have to replace me. Someone new was brought into their lives who respected me, as their mother. I can remember my daughter’s graduation party. Her little sister was so excited to meet her mom. Kids are funny. They can’t pretend. So, when she was so excited to meet me, and gave me an adoring look, my heart melted. All this fear of being replaced was silly. Not only was I not being replaced, but I was very much a part of my daughter’s life and the life of her sister. Not because she knew who I was, but because I was a special place where her big sister would go for a few nights. And the look she gave me, told me she felt it was a happy place. It felt pretty special.

When my daughter was struggling, emotionally, with her Lyme, it was her stepmom that had connections in State College to get her the help she needed. The reality was, my kids didn’t just have someone new around them. They had her, her daughter and family and friends around them. More people to love my kids. More people to look out for them. And I am so grateful to her for what she has given to them.

I have had friends that are in the same boat as I am. Thrilled for the kids to have someone new in their lives that loves them. Others are still coming to terms with it and still frightened. The climb up those steps is a long hard climb, but if the steps are right and you can figure out how to get to the top, believe me, those Steps can lead to something beautiful.

Life In the Fast Lane

One thing I have learned from my divorce is that I am an extrovert. I love being around people. Don’t get me wrong. I love my space too. But being around others just brings me joy.

I love going out with my friends or hanging out with them at their house or mine. I love visiting with family and going in the pool or relaxing. I love spending time with my guy playing golf or poker or date night. And I love when my kids come over and just fill my house with sweet noise. Given the opportunity, I will get up very early and go to bed extremely late to enjoy the people in my life.

But here’s the thing…being active like that, it doesn’t always like me. For instance, last week, I had been going all week. I completely crashed and burned last Monday into Tuesday. I was so exhausted, I forgot all my coping skills. But it’s not just about crashing because I am so tired. I get so busy, that I forget how to enjoy being alone. How to enjoy time to myself. This is supposed to be calming and enjoyable. I can watch what I want on tv. I can sit around on my couch with no pants on. I can talk to myself. I can sing at the top of my lungs and dance around my kitchen (my neighbors probably think I am weird). I love doing these things, but when I live my life in the fast lane, and never stop, I forget how important that time is.

If someone asked me 5 or 6 years ago if I thought my life would ever be this full, I would have said, “absolutely not!” I was a total couch potato. Always watching tv or sitting in my craft room. I was a total fuddy duddy. I learned to really just take life and run with it, and run and run and run and run and CRASH.

But, this week, I realized, I am not alone in keeping busy and forgetting how to be alone. It’s been a tough week for a few people in my life this week. Whether it is going out to avoid being home, or running around always taking care of other people just to be able to not respond to the bad in our lives. It’s really hard to face things that aren’t going your way.

I have surrounded myself with warriors. If you are in my life, know that I think that about you. Whatever your battle is, you have faced it head on and may have other battles you are gearing up for. This is one of our missions. Take some time to be alone. Think about what you enjoy doing alone. Embrace that down time. Love ourselves and enjoy being with ourselves. We are such strong people. Learn a new craft, enjoy a book, exercise, start cooking. Enjoy life in the slow lane sometimes. You don’t have to stay there. Start slow. Maybe just plan a weeknight where you can relax. Make a plan of what you will do. Start adding tv shows or movies to your Streaming cue. By some yarn and hooks so when the evening comes, you have something to do. A drink….don’t forget a good drink. It’s absolutely okay to drink alone. After all, think of it as a date. A date with your biggest love…You.

Some Days, I am a Porcupine

Life can deal you a pretty crappy hand sometimes. I was having a fantastic week, a little exhausted from a fun weekend, but still fantastic. Then, it hit. I left work yesterday, excited for a day off, playing golf with one of my favorite people. Days with him are always amazing. I got to my car and a flat tire. I was doing okay. Got roadside assistance and was able to take my car to the shop. They didn’t have the tires needed. Okay, I was offered cars. I was able to find a ride. But I was starting to feel overwhelmed. I wanted to be home early and get some much needed sleep. I was way overtired. It was already 7 PM.

Miscommunications and misunderstandings on my part led me to not have a car. Which led to lots of feelings. Mainly, the feeling of being alone. Since COVID became a thing, I have felt alone. It’s wonderful to see family. But there’s no more freedom. Wearing a mask stinks. I hate that feeling of not getting enough air. Of being really hot. But it’s most important to protect the ones I love. But watching everyone sit with their family, while I sit at a table alone, it’s just a reminder that I am alone. Normally, I can laugh and joke about it (doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt). But exhaustion changes everything.

I become a complete porcupine. My quills go up and I push everyone away. I’m a jerk. And I am a jerk to the people closest to me. I’m sorry for that. If anyone tries to be nice, my quills get shot out. I want to be alone. I want to push people away. And then, I back pedal. I regret it and I’m sorry for how I acted. But, when I apologize, I minimize my feelings of aloneness. Just because I’m sorry…just because I’ve gotten past it…doesn’t mean those feelings are gone. It just means I have tucked them away for another day where I am exhausted.

I am so blessed to have friends and family I can call on when I need them. In these times, it’s hard. The people I love don’t need to be put at risk and there will always be a bit of hesitation. But I know they want to help. I’m grateful that I have people that teach me that I really don’t need to be a porcupine. I know I don’t. And I try to work really hard on that. But, when I’m exhausted, I lose sight of all the things I’ve learned in the last few years. I can’t see past this insecure person I used to be. Old habits die hard.

To my mom, my sister and my favorite golf partner, I’m sorry for pushing you away and being a jerk. I’m so thankful to have all of you in my life and even more grateful that you recognize that I’m not really a porcupine. In fact, when it seems like I am shooting out quills, that’s probably when I need you the most. When I push you away, it’s not a test and it’s not meant to hurt you ever. It’s me hurting myself because my insecurities come flooding back. And I don’t want you to see that I’m not always that Wonder Woman I worked so hard to become.

Never Have I Ever…

Never have I ever learned to open up as much as I have in the last year and a half.  It’s been a journey, for me, of self awareness.  I have always had an issue with really telling people what I need or what I am afraid of.

I have always lived my life worried that someone wouldn’t approve of me.  That people would walk away if I showed who I really was.  I would bottle up my feelings until my anxiety set in.  Then it would all come out when I couldn’t take it anymore. 

I have made some amazing friends.  I don’t have to pretend I am something I’m not, nor do I have to hide who I am.  I don’t have to hide from my family either.  I am good enough.  And with their help, I have been able to build a healthy relationship with an amazing man.

Never have I ever been able to share my fears and insecurities with someone the way I do with him.  I can say it, and he never makes me feel small, or stupid, or treats me like I am crazy.  He accepts my insecurities and validates them, and works hard to make sure I don’t feel that way.  He has never given me reason to not trust him, but he totally recognizes that I do bring baggage to the relationship and that I am always working on it.

Never have I ever been able to have a relationship with someone where I can accept the baggage they bring in.  Let’s be honest.  When you’re middle age and you are in the dating world, there is always baggage.  Maybe not bad, but there is always something we bring from our past.  He doesn’t come without baggage either.  And I completely accept it.  And I am there for him and try to help him through his stuff too. 

Never have I ever been so afraid in my life. I don’t have anxiety. I am not lacking in trust. I am not even afraid of being hurt. In fact, my insecurities have almost all disappeared. I am terrified of how I feel. This was supposed to be a completely different kind of relationship. A relationship that had a specific emotional box that it fit in. Never did I ever expect that he would slowly start filling my other emotional boxes. That he would be the one I call when I am really excited by something or having a really bad day. He has become my person. I can’t speak for him, but he makes me feel like I am his person too.

Never have I ever been able to be unapologetically me.  I can act silly.  I can make gutter brain jokes.  I can tell him when I am down and he always makes me feel better.  I can tell him I want to do something new, step outside my comfort zone, and he encourages me.  I can go out with my girlfriends and he loves that I have friends like that. 

Never have I ever been with someone who would stop an entire conversation to tell a room full of strangers how wonderful I am.  I wasn’t in a bad frame of mind where he was trying to make me feel better.  He just said it because it is how he feels.  And never have I ever been made to feel like that before.

Never have I ever felt like I could give my heart to someone, yet keep my independence and be a strong woman…until now.