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.

Thankful For Love

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays that I have had a love/hate relationship. Even when I was married, often, my ex-husband was away on a hunting trip. I didn’t know if he would make it home for the day or not. If he made it home, it was amazing. If not, I was disappointed all day.

When I became single, well, it felt lonely because I didn’t have someone by my side. I became one of those single people whom everyone felt sorry for. I got to spend every morning with the kids, but, for dinner, they would alternate years at their dad’s house and with me. They can never know how lonely those years without them are. It doesn’t matter how much family is around, when my kids aren’t around, it feels so lonely. This was my 5th Thanksgiving living as a single woman. And, while it was supposed to my year with the kids (even though they are no longer minors, they have stuck with every other year), I was horribly disappointed when they told me they wouldn’t be with me. My son was having dinner with his long-time girlfriend’s family. I have been anticipating they would start doing holidays together, and I am so happy for him. Sophia decided to spend the year with her dad. It was a big sting, but not a suprise. So, I spent some time preparing myself, mentally, for a second year without my kids with me for dinner. What I really needed to do was take an emotional inventory of what I had in my life. My inventory consisted of only one word.

LOVE. When I look back at the last year of my life, I realize just how full my life is. Even on weeks that I sit at home for 5 nights straight, my life has been so filled. When I am home alone, it’s because I choose to be. I choose to take the time for myself. If I am feeling down, I have so many loves in my life that I am never really alone. This place is unchartered territory for me. Even when I was married, I didn’t feel this full. Now, I am exactly where I always wanted to be. I wake up with only my dog next to me. I make breakfast and eat by myself. But I never feel alone anymore. This is what people mean by living their best lives.

The kids got to my house last Sunday. I had such an amazing visit with them. We spent a few days together and it was such great quality time with them. I missed having Thanksgiving dinner with them. But in the end, Thanksgiving is just one day. I had a few amazing days with them. And it’s the little things they do that are huge to me. The hugs. Sitting at the table together. Cooking together. Joking around together. My Thanksgiving with them was all week. What more could I ask for?

This year marked the 35th year of the annual football game at my parents’ house. The game has evolved so much. It started as two families at a campground in Haymarket. When we moved to the country in 1986, it became a tradition. The game has changed a lot. I was a teenager when the tradition started. The game has seen some amazing gains…marriages, new babies, new friends, babies that have grown into young adults, their significant others. Some years there are 10 people that play. Other years, there are 25. But no matter what, we have a blast. The game has seen some significant losses too. Friends have moved away, one time players can no longer play, divorce, and mostly, the loss of someone who was like a second mother to me. One of the original players. She passed away right before Thanksgiving 16 years ago. Every year, we think about her. Her famous onion dip is always at the table, and my family will stand by the dip and talk about our wonderful memories of her. Our tradition runs strong, and so does her memory.

Dinner, just like for many others, is a tradition. The table has gotten bigger and bigger. It got smaller for a while, with the famous “kids’ table,” but they are no longer kids. So we have moved back to one table. What makes our dinners so special. Well, our dinner conversation. The things we say would make many people blush. We are rude and crude and sometimes we laugh until we pee ourselves. This year, as I sat at the table, surrounded by the family that I have so often taken for granted, I took in every ounce of love they had to offer. I didn’t feel alone at any point in the day. I felt surrounded and I felt like I was exactly where I needed to be.

My love life…well, it’s definitely existent. It’s a bit unorthodox, but with that, it has allowed me to grow so much in learning how to have a relationship, yet still be independent and enjoy all the family and girl time I want. Until now, relationships have always been a way for me to go from being someone strong, to becoming needy and/or unhappy and giving up everything for someone. That causes resentment and unhappiness. This go round, I have learned to communicate, that I don’t have to step away from friends and family, and that I am very lovable as a strong and independent woman. What’s awesome is that we do not complete each other. But we enhance each other, we understand each other, and we are there for each other. I have noticed, in the last 9 months, that when something amazing happens, or something bad happens, we want to share with each other. When my baggage gets to heavy, I can talk to him. I have to be honest though, I used to go to friends first, who would listen and encourge me to open up to him. He accepts my baggage and my insecurities and has never made me feel bad for having them. We work through them. And, that baggage has become significantly lighter. I still get insecurities, but it’s rare now. Very rare. But I never feel bad for having them. We face them together. He shares his struggle with me. I listen. We talk a lot. We have found a happy place together. A place of calm and comfort. And I don’t mean that complacent comfort where things fall by the wayside. It’s a comfort that we can be ourselves and know that we will accept and love each other. Yes, I said it. The “L” word. That scares me, when it comes to an intimate relationship. For a while, I couldn’t admit it. What if I lost myself again? But I have learned that I am strong enough to have that emotion now. I am strong enough to accept that feeling and know that I am surrounded by enough love everywhere else, that no matter what happens, I will always be okay. Vulnerability like this is actually a superpower, not a weakness. When I give love, it creates more love for me to give away.

I have let so much love into my life this past year that I am completely overwhelmed sometimes…in a very good way. And, by letting that love in, I have found that the love I can give has increased infinitely. It gives me more patience with others around me. I have been told by clients I work with that my smile has made their day brighter. A co-worker told me I was like a walking love emoji. My friends see it, my family sees it. And my gosh, I feel it. So, this year, my emotional inventory is all love. I am so grateful for all the love I have in my life. Love heals, it strengthens, and love pours out of you when you have the right kind. In the words of Roald Dahl, “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.”

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends and family, to all my loves, to all the ones who were lessons in my life. May you all feel the love that I feel, throughout the holiday season and throughout the entire year.

Down, Lazy or Self-Care

It’s so funny how we respond to rainy days. Especially weekend rainy days. For me, I look forward to it. And when they fall on a Sunday, I make all kinds of plans to work on things around the house. I typically work six days a week. So Sunday’s, when it’s beautiful out, I love to get the dog and spend the day outside, if I can. I find the rain has a way of slowing me down. I look forward to staying in. I have grandiose plans of going to sleep, at the end of the day, with my house completely spotless, laundry all done, and a freezer full of prepared meals.

So, what does this rainy Sunday look like for me?

It’s 2 pm and I am still in jammies, cuddled with the dog. Notice the laundry basket in the background. I’ve folded one load, but defintely moving slow. My floor has pieces of Marshall’s rope toy all over it, and I haven’t made my way to the grocery store to get food for the week (so much for those prepared meals). I’ve barely gotten anything done.

So here is what I struggle with. I have been pretty tired today. I have been busy all week, between work and being with friends. I’ve had some late nights. So, when I sit down and relax, am I being lazy, or is this wonderful self-care? The longer the day goes on, the more down I let myself get frustrated, because I have done almost nothing I had planned to do. I have been kicking myself most of the morning for not wanting to get off the couch. For wanting to binge watch shows that I have fallen way behind on, for wanting to snuggle with the dog and watch football. It got me thinking. Why am I so angry with myself?

The truth is, I am terrible at self care. I am awesome about reminding others to take care of themselves. That it’s okay to be a little selfish and take time for themselves. But, when it’s time for me to do just that, I can’t…or maybe it’s just that I won’t. Why can’t I take some time for myself and enjoy it? Why do I feel like I can’t just relax and do something I enjoy without feeling guilty for not doing things around the house? Is it because I feel lazy for just wanting a day to relax?

As guilty as I feel, I know I’m not lazy. I also know I’m not feeling down. I’m feeling guilty because I have chosen to take some time to take care of myself and take a much needed break from a busy week. I have no issue relaxing if someone is here with me. But what is keeping me from relaxing when I have time to myself? I look forward to time to myself. I can watch what I want, I can do crafts if I want, I can nap if I want. It’s something I have to learn to do for myself.

What I need to learn is how to balance all this. I still have to get things done around the house, but surely, I can also take some time for myself and not feel guilty. I’m always open to suggestions. Tell my how you pratice self-care. And how do you balance being productive at home and self care?

I look forward to hearing your responses.

New Friends,Old Friends, Girl Friends, Boy Friends

I have learned that being in love doesn’t necessarily make us stronger, or even happier, but having love does. I don’t mean the kind you have from a significant other. I am talking about the love you have from true friendships. The kind that last a lifetime. The kind of friends that include family or feel like family. I didn’t realize I had some of these friends until a few years ago. Friends I grew up with that I still connect with. Friends I may not see or talk to every day, for whom I would drop everything for if they were in need. And they would do the same for me.

I recently had dinner with one of my best friends we have been together since she was born, three days after me. we see each other two or three times a year. and, get this, we live three or four miles away from each other. The truth is, life can get in the way. At dinner, she aplogized for being out of touch. My first thought was, “no need to apologize because I am just as guilty.” We are at different places in life. She is married and has kids at home. I am single and live alone. But that does not make me value our friendship any less. We do less things together, but the love has not changed. And when asked about my best friends growing up, her name always comes up. And my response following that is, “and she is till one of my very best friends.” She is one of those friends that when we get together, we pick right up where we left off. I have a few friends like that, whom I can pick right up with.

I just went camping with another of those friends. We went camping together last weekend. Not glamping, not with an air matress or portable gourmet kitchen. But good old fashioned camping. Sleeping on the ground, cooking on the fire, peeing in the woods and no shower. Yeah, didn’t shower for a day and a half. We played games by the fire, we saw a bear near the campsite, and we fought off yellow jackets. But the weekend was fun anyway. Well, except that I shared my sleeping bag with my 68 pound dog. I think I need to invest in a double sleeping bag so I can share with Marshall. It was amazing to spend the weekend with a friend that I talk to on almost a daily basis, but hardly get to see. We talked about our kids and life. He is one of those friends I have known since high school, but didn’t realize how important he would be in my life until a few years ago. We have seen each other through some tough break ups, tough times raising kids, and exciting times raising kids. We have cried a lot together. I am so grateful that we were able to really reconnect and grow such an amazing friendship.

I have written about my tribe before, but I have been truly blessed to have them in my life. These women came into my life in the last year or two and it’s as if they were always there. When FaceBook pops up and says, “It’s your Friendiversary” I am surprised when it says 1 year, or 2 years. How is that possible? I can’t picture my life withouth these women. There are very few days when we don’t talk. These are the women I turn to when something happens with dating, being a divorced mom or dealing with an ex. I turn to them for so much more, however, they are the ones that completely understand the trials and tribulations of being divorced and single again. We straighten each others’ crowns and speak the truth, even if it hurts sometimes. We do game nights and girls’ weekends. An impromptu text to have a quick lunch during the work day. People always say that the challenges in life are not a sprint, they are like running a marathon. You have to go slow and steady to maintain strength for the full run. These women, they help me sustain my strength. They give me strength. I hope I return that for them. When one of us needs strength, those of us that have it, give it willingly.

I cannot write about friends and people that give you strength without writing about my family. There is absolutely no way I would have gotten through all the things in my life without family. I am, without a doubt, loved beyond belief. I may not always deserve it, I may take it for granted, but I know it’s there and I do know just how blessed I am. My parents have helped me through a divorce, buying a new home, totalling a car, getting a new job, helping me with my dogs and thousands of little things around the house that add up to tons and tons of love. And let’s not forget two surgeries. My mom slept on a little chair after my last surgery so I wasn’t home alone. She helped me shower and had to help me take care of my incisions. Not a pretty job at all. While I may not always show how appreciative I am, I do know exactly how much they do for me and there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for them and that I don’t think about how much I love them. And my sister…She has no clue how strong she is. She has been this incredible rock for her family. At the same time as she was being so strong for her family at home, she was helping me through a divorce. She would come to my house late at night and soothe me as I cried myself to sleep. She and I have gone through very different challenges in our lives. I don’t pretend to understand what she has gone through. But I have seen how she has handled it. The grace with which she has handled it all. She has not been through the same challenges as me. But what she offers me is a listening ear. Not suggestions, not a knowledge of what I feel, but someone who accepts me for my challenges and supports me and just hears me. She is too humble to even see the impact she has had on so many lives. Girl, I know you’re reading this. The strength I have found, the strength your family has, it’s you.

I can’t talk about family without talking about my kiddos. So here’s the thing, when I realized divorce was the only option, I knew I wasn’t the only one that would go through it. My kids were going to have to go through it too. Their challenges were going to be very different from mine. I also knew I wouldn’t understand what they were going through. My parents are still together. What I did know, was that they were not going to be burdened with the challenges I faced from the divorce. I was not going to burden them with having to take sides. They should be able to love both me and their dad equally, without having to feel guilty or like they are hurting us. I never wanted them to feel as though they would need to be my rock through this difficult time. I needed to be their mom and love them and get them through their challenges. The kids didn’t talk much about the divorce. I didn’t force it and I tried to always make it clear that I was there for them no matter what. It took me a long time to really be able to look at my relationship with them and appreciate what I have. You see, teenagers are tough. Whether they are part of an intact family, a blended family, or with single parents, they present challenges because they are going through their own challenges, that they are not quite mature enough to handle all the time. I had to learn to not take everything personally. Now, I can gain strength from them too, and they don’t even realize it. When I get a first day of classes picture it melts my heart that they thought of me. When I get a surprise that one of them is home and wants to spend time with me. When they ask me to come to a college game to get that experience, I feel like a million bucks. The phone calls and text exchanges I have with my kids are becoming something I look forward to. I used to walk on eggshells being afraid to say the wrong thing. Now, I can let most things roll right off and not take it personally. I will say, my kids expressed to me a little over a year ago, that they wished I had opened up more to them about the divorce. I don’t know if it is because there dad was very open with them about his feelings, that they needed my “side” to balance it out so they didn’t feel pulled in one direction. I have stood by my choice to not share that with them. That is their dad. I will not say bad things about him to make me feel better. They are welcome to vent to me about him just as they should be able to vent to him about me. However, I will not join in and perpetuate the frustration for my personal gain. It doesn’t help them. I will support them and protect them and be their strength, but I will not talk bad about him to them. In sticking with my morals, I have found such a happiness, and the kids seem truly happy for me. And when I see them enjoying school, I am thrilled for them. Seeing them happy brings me so much joy.

This, this is what I have been craving my entire life. To have such amazing friendships. Everyone is so completely important to me and I am truly blessed to have them all in my life. I can only hope that I bring them even half the joy and strength that they give me. Because of them, I can live my life free from anxiety, free from fear of being hurt by an intimate relationship, without putting up walls. I can be my true self with anyone and I don’t have to give a flying fuck if someone doesn’t like it. I’m surrounded by people who love me and do like me, so others are free to walk away. People may come into my life that make me very happy. And I will not put up walls and I will let them into my life. And I can go into that without fear of getting hurt. Because I know if that happens, I’m surrounded by love, and my entire tribe will pick me up and I will be okay. Having friends is powerful. Probably one of the most powerful super powers. You don’t have to have a lot of friends. You just need to have the ones that will let you be unapologetically you.

End of Summer Blues

Summer is coming to an end, which means bittersweet goodbyes to my kids and my older dog. In the beginning of summer I was worried about awkward moments with my kids and making sure our schedules were synched so they didn’t come home while I was in the middle of a date. There were times I would ask them not to come home on a certain night. I usually heard from my daughter, “awkward.” Yes Princess, it is awkward. But pretty sure it wouldn’t be as awkward as seeing me bent over my Sir’s lap like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. Who knew Lucy and Ricky were kinky?

The summer was great. I had a wonderful time with the kids. I feel like we made huge strides in our relationships. I was able to enjoy my daughter so much as we travelled to Europe. We drank together and cried together and grew stronger together. I had some amazing quality time with my son. As we talked I could see that he was turning the corner from a young college student to a young man learning to take on responsibilities and hard work.

I just started to get used to our routine of them coming for dinner and or staying with me. I got used to my bed being shared with two snuggly dogs. And I even got used to the dogs waking me up an hour after I fell asleep because they refused to go out before heading to bed. I got used to hugs from the kids when they were here and watching them sleep (don’t tell them that part, they would think I am weird, but I still love the sound of their breathing when sleeping).

Today, I said goodbye to my son and my dog. They headed back to school early so my son could start working on his thesis for his senior year. Yes, his last year as an undergraduate!!! Where does the time go. I’m convinced it goes faster the older we get. My daughter heads back in a couple of weeks, however, she has such a full schedule, I don’t think I will get many more opportunities to see her. I laugh, because I kept thinking, it’s tough managing my single life schedule with my kids and I love my alone time. But the truth is, I love when my kids are here too. So, while I won’t have to worry about where they are staying at night and if I need to cancel a date or dinner with friends, I will miss my kids more than they know. I will have the quiet that I crave after a busy day at work, or after several nights of being out with friends and just needing a break. But I will miss the white noise of laughter from my kids and their friends. The noises that make my house feel like a home. While I won’t go through that extra 1 1/2 pounds of dog food every day, I will miss my older dog greeting me when I come home from work each day with his tippy tap feet. While I will have my lap back while I am watching tv, I will miss petting Spyder, as he thinks he is being sneaky and lying down on my lap (at 80 lbs, he thinks he is sneaky).

So, another transition that will give me more strength. I am learning not to be sad with these transitions but to be excited for what’s in store for me next. Road trips to State College, hopefully a Penn State football game, traveling to a Story Telling Festival, maybe a girls’ trip, camping with a friend, dates and more dates with my guy, a big graduation and much, much more fun in my life. So I will take some time to reflect on my amazing summer, and to acknowledge the sadness as my kids fly the nest, once again. I will be more than okay. I will be strong and I will thrive!!!!!!

Life is not a Spectator Sport

I have not posted in so long. I have been adjusting to a wonderful new way of life with my new job. I keep so busy during the day. It goes incredibly fast, and I am having such amazing experiences. And the best part is that when work is over, I am done working for the day. For the first time in 11 years, I am sleeping with my phone on vibrate. This is what it feels like to sleep in peace. The other wonderful part about my new job is that I can walk to work. It’s a great way to start and end the day.

So, I’m settling into work and settling into my new chapter and it’s May. This is the month I look forward to so much. The kids come home from college. I love having them home. And, even better, they seem happy to be spending time with me. But…yes, there is a but…when they tell me they don’t know which days they will be at my house, but they will just come over, well, that’s when I hear the needle slide off the vinyl and the lovely music come to a screeching halt. Yes, I am a single woman, however, I don’t rememer joining a convent. In fact, I might be struck by lightning if I tried.

So how do I tell my kids they are welcome MOST anytime, but maybe not all the time. I want my house to be open to them, however, I want to avoid any awkward situations. So, here’s the deal. My kids are in college. They are both adults. It’s going to be an awkward conversation, but much less awkward than having to put a sock on the door.

The rules have been discussed, and I am pretty sure they are good with it. Let’s make a plan for the week, so I can make my weekly plans (dates, girls’ nights out, etc). If you want to come over between those times, fantastic!!!!! But call first. If I don’t answer and my car is there, check the glass front door. If it’s locked…walk away. I have blocked you from getting to the door where there is a key. There’s a reason for that. Let’s not have an awkward moment. If my car is gone and that door is unlocked, come on in. This house is meant to feel like home. I want them to feel at home here. But, I have also gotten used to a life of living on my own.

This has been causing some anxiety for a while now. I wasn’t sure how the discussions would go. But they went well and I believe the kids understand. Without thinking about too much of what I have said to them, I think they are happy that I am so comfortable with myself, that I can be open with them. That I have a social life. I love that I can be open with them. And that they know just how much I love them and completely enjoy all the time I have with them. But they also respect that there are times that I will need to ask for some space also. Our relationship has grown so much, even in this past year.

It’s funny. A Facebook memory recently popped up and it hit me like a ton of bricks. The post was about my kids running a fun run and my ex running a marathon. The last sentence in my post was,” Me, I was an AWESOME spectator!!!!!!” I read that sentence over and over again. Why the hell was I so proud of being an awesome spectator. That was my role when I was married. I chose to support everyone else and leave my needs on the back burner. So, with my kids home, I will still be a participant in my life. I cannot always wait for their schedule. I am a participant in my own life, and if that means having awkward conversations with the kiddos so they understand that I am living life, well, so be it. Life should never be a spectator sport!

Holiday Blues

Holidays can be such a difficult time when you don’t have a partner with whom to share it. For me, I spend Christmas Eve with my kids (who spend most of their time on their phones…snapchatting their dad), my parents and my sister and her family. While it’s always a wonderful family filled day, and I know thay my family makes sure I have extra gifts to open so I’m not sitting around watching everyone else open (Mom, I know you read this, and thank you), there’s still that underlying feeling of being all alone. Even when I have brought a significant other home, it has felt awkward and lonely.

So, when it comes to Christmas shopping, I hate it. I was never good at it before. But now, I do anything and everything to avoid it. This year, I have done all I can online, but I’m still not close to being done. Between holiday parties and work, I have Sunday to get it done. When you are already pretty down about it, dealing with crowds who are feeling pretty similar, is just no fun.

This time can be rough, but we will get through it. One of the tools I use is to count down the days. So, today is Friday. I have 3 days to complete everything before Christmas Eve. If I want to scare myself shitless I can say to myself, “Wow, you don’t have much time.” So, to make myself feel better…I say to myself, “Wow, you don’t have much time.” Wait! Before you think I’ve lost my marbles, hear me out. The first meaning is, holy cow! you have so much to do and so little time. No way will it all be done on time. The second is simply, hey, there’s only 3 mor days for you to worry about this and then you can sit back, relax and enjoy the family time. Yes, the next 3 days are going to be sooooo hectic. But it’s three days. It’s like a really busy work week. I really should get all my holiday shopping done throughout the year, but who am I really kidding. I say that every year, and every year, here I am. So my New Years Resolution is to stop lying to myself and just know I’ll be procrastinating for Christmas again next year.

So, how do I plan to get everything done in the next three days? Simple. Tonight, I’m going to spend it with my girlfriends for a wonderful holiday party. Tomorrow morning, maybe some wrapping of what I have and figuring out what I need. But I work all day tomorrow, so I’ll be gone from around 11:30 am until around 11 pm. So, instead of 3 hectic days, I’m giving myself Sunday. One day to get it all done. But first, I have to go to church to watch my daughter play flute. So…1/2 a day. I won’t be putting on any old big girl panties to tackle Sunday. It’s a day for my Wonder Woman panties.

So. Happy holidays to everyone reading. I hope that even if the holiday season is a tough time for you, you can choose to look at the positive and realize you are so close that you can soon get to a time where you can relax.

The In-Between Moments

Just a couple weeks ago I went and saw Bohemian Rhapsody. What a movie! There was a moment, when Freddy Mercury was talking with his future lover, Jim Hutton. He said he was afraid of life’s “in-between” moments. Before that moment, the movie showed his wild and lavish lifestyle. On the outside, it appears as though he has everything. But the movie shows him in his mansion, with his cats, all alone. He has no idea what to do with himself. My heart broke for him. And I understood exactly what he meant by those “in-between” moments.

When I first got separated, I remember the first night my kids spent away from the house. I was alone. Sure, I had friends. But when all your friends are marriage friends, it gets pretty awkward. And these friends were not ones I felt like I could call or text when I needed someone. I never nurtured my friendships to create that type of a relationship. So, those “in-between” moments, well, they were all the time. I would get anxious just anticipating them. I felt alone, even before the house was empty, just knowing the torture of it. My family was amazing at checking in on me. But I lacked those friendships we all need. No friends were checking in on me. I felt as though I just didn’t matter.

So, I filled that alone time? I drank a lot and I went on dating sites trying to find someone to fill that void. Really, what I found, was that the dating was mostly rejection with some dates that ended badly because I wouldn’t sleep with someone on a first date. The “in-between” moments were still there, only much worse. I had the rejection of dating and still no friends to check on me and see how I was. Clearly, drinking and dating were not the answers.

On a whim, I searched for local divorce groups. I found this amazing group for women going through separation and divorce. We all had something in common. It took time to nurture those friendships, but it has been amazing. As a group, we try to get together fairly regularly. It can be tough, as everyone with children has different custody schedules, but we make it work. Normally we meet out somewhere, usually a restaurant. We’ve gone to concerts as well (and I danced so much I could barely walk the next day). I had my first get-together at my home with this wonderful group of ladies. Okay, so the get-together was supposed to be a game night, but we never opened a single game. I did a take two of game night, but still, no games were opened. But the company was great.

Apart from the group activities, I have made some amazing friends who I have come to rely on and enjoy spending time with. Some of my “in-between” moments are starting to be filled with brunches and movie nights and impromptu drinks. I got a text the other night “I’m bored. Let’s get a drink!” It was out of the blue, but it made my day. Coming home to an empty house doesn’t feel nearly as alone anymore. I don’t need to have someone on the couch next to me, nor do I have to have someone constantly texting and checking in on me. I have some pretty amazing friends, that I know have my back. And they know I have theirs. I have an amazing family and they are my rock. It has taken me a long time to realize just how much I have in my life, but I’m so grateful for all of it.

I do still have some pretty torturous “in-between” moments. And I feel sorry for myself. And I’m pretty miserable to be around. But picking myself up from that is much easier. And each and every day, I like myself even more. That’s the ultimate key to being alone. Finding yourself again and learning to like what you see in the mirror. It’s still a work in progress, I will always be a work in progress. But with the help of amazing friends and family, I make many more steps forward than I do backwards.

When those moments of torture get the best of you, reach out to a friend or family member. Find a group and make the most of it. Step out of your comfort zone to meet new people. It’s not going to happen unless you make it happen. But when it does, girlfriend, you are going to soar!!!!!!!!!

Let’s Start at the Beginning

It’s really hard to decide where the beginning really is. I separated from my ex-husband 3 1/2 years ago. Our divorce was finalized 2 years ago. This August, my youngest joined her brother at Penn State University. They took my dog with them, as my daughter has Lyme and is using him as an emotional support dog. I can’t lie, I was looking forward to having my dog with me so I wasn’t alone in my home. So, what did I do? I rescued a dog. Marshall. He’s pretty amazing!!!

In the last few years, I’ve worked really hard to create a better relationship with my kids. I’ve gone through the dating world (it’s entertaining, but almost more stressful than it’s worth). I underwent 2 surgeries last year. I had back surgery, and I also had half my colon removed. Yep, I now have a semicolon. I just got out of a year long relationship. I thought I loved him, but turns out, I think I was way more in love with having someone. The moment he got drunk and started putting me down, I was out the door. I know I deserve better than that, and won’t stand to be treated that way.

One of the best things I did after my divorce…I joined a local Facebook group for women who are separated and divorced. When I got separated, I realized I did not have friends that were mine. They were all mine with my ex-husband. And, since they were all football friends, and the ex was one of the high school football coaches, the loyalty went to him so their kids’ could get playing time. So, back to the drawing board with friends. So, my new friends are amazing. We are all in similar places in life and can be completely ourselves with each other. I love these ladies. When I’m down, they are there. When I am excited about something, they are there. We come from all walks of life, but it works for us all.

So, that’s pretty much the cliffnotes of my last 3 years. The dating adventures have been fun, and I’m getting ready to get back in the saddle again. I’m looking forward to sharing lessons I’ve learned along the way, as long as some fun and entertaining experiences in my life. I’m sure not all things will be fun, because, after all, it’s life. And life has a way of throwing crazy curveballs at us.