Bumpity, Bump, Bump, Bump

On Friday I mentioned something that gives me a big owiee when I bump up against it.  I get pretty uncomfortable with the whole “Jesus is the (only) Way” thing.  To me, that’s just another method of putting the power for your salvation and happiness outside of yourself.  I think we each are in charge of saving ourselves.  There is no incantation we can say or water we can bathe in that makes Jesus’ spirit enter our body and steer us to Heaven. (Although I do believe we can connect with him or the spirit he represents.) Our salvation requires work on our part and if anything the way of Jesus was the behavior he modeled for us.

This leads me to my most recent bump.  I have a Facebook friend whose spouse left them about 6 weeks ago.  In all honesty I was excited to watch my friend’s journey through this.  It may sound bad, but from everything I observed it was the right path.  The friend seemed to come alive and was intent on being happy on their own…until someone else played matchmaker.  One date and my friend is head over heels in love.  It would not surprise me if an engagement comes before the divorce is finalized.

I found myself wanting to tell them to stop right there and go back to being “on their own.”  I mean sure I could say rationally it’s too soon and they should really focus on healing, but this is about more than that.  The fact that it bothers me so much means it is also about me.  So what is it within me that this is a mirror for. I know it sounds narcissistic but stuff bugs us because it irritates an un-healed wound within us.  You can be sure when you take something personally that is really none of your business there’s more to it than just “concern for another.”

So what is it?  Well I think I fear that I will never “make it on my own” when it comes to my professional life.  But that I will always give in and take the easier path when faced with a challenge.  I’ve already started thinking of “back-up careers” that won’t make me happy but will keep me busy when that time comes.  The other thought this situation brings up for me is this idea of seeking outside of yourself.  Intellectually I know that true happiness comes from within.  I know that in order to love fully I must first love myself that way.  But I can’t seem to do it.  I continue to seek affirmation from sources outside of me, instead of looking within.  I want my heart to open up wide again (I’ve felt somewhat closed lately) and when it does I want to leave it that way instead of stuffing it full of what the world has to offer.

At the end of the day I want for my friend the same thing that I want for myself.  I want them to be happy and at peace.  But more importantly I want them to stop searching and know that they are already enough!

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Jane R’s Click

I received a click story in my inbox the other day and at first felt terrible that I had not found it sooner, but as I read it I realized the timing was just right.  I wrote about marriage on Monday and when I published that post I wondered about any readers who might be thinking that they’d been looking at the big picture and were tired of living in a black cloud and desperately seeking that silver lining.  I know there are people who put all they can into their marriages and still find that the only way to achieve joy is to leave it behind.  So this amazing post about the end of a marriage and the awakening of a creative, thriving, beautiful woman is for you. You can read Jane’s blog here.

One of my biggest personal changes happened when I got divorced from my ex-husband.  We had been living in a renovated carriage house on his parent’s property for 10 years.  His parents were adamant that the kids and I should stay and he should move out.  I had my chance to get that UHaul and move but I passed on it due to my own fear and self imposed limitations.  I simply didn’t believe that I could ever make it on my own out there with two children.  On July 1, 2004 my husband moved out.  As the kids ran to the window and watched the moving van pull out of the driveway, I sat there in a half empty dismantled home feeling envious that he got off that property instead of me.  He had the freedom while I put down the scissors after clipping my own wings.  It would be four more years of living next door to the main house and a soured relationship with my ex-in laws before the tides changed and I got that UHaul.  But in the mean time, those four years were the biggest gift from God that I ever got.  In that period of time I unearthed so many wonderful things about myself that I thought were long dead.

In the beginning of our divorce there were some adjustments to be made.  If you’re a woman who’s been through a divorce you know that no matter how happy you are to be free of a bad marriage there is a period of grieving that goes with it too.  For so long I was tied in to the identity of being someone’s wife.  Even though I was in a bad marriage, it still gave me a sense of feeling complete just knowing that I had a husband.  With the new title of “single mother” I really started looking closer at what it meant to be a woman.  Sometimes as a single mother I felt like I had scarlet letter on my forehead.  Other times women would approach me privately and tell me that they envied the freedom I had gotten because they had been in horrible marriages for years but were too afraid to leave for financial reasons.  It was then that I realized I would rather be single and struggling a bit than to stay in a loveless marriage for the next twenty years just so that I could hold on to the big house and tennis lessons.

It didn’t take too long after my ex husband moved out to realize that a huge mountain of weight had been lifted.  Granted, I was still living on his parent’s property and terrified about how I would make it as a single woman with no real career but I was still amazed at the sense of freedom for just having that weight taken off me.  I suddenly had a sense that if I could feel so much lighter despite those restrictions, imagine the real sense of freedom once I cut my ties to my in-law’s property entirely.

The greatest thing about my new found freedom was watching all the goodness in me resurface again.  The creativity that had no pulse was suddenly bursting out of me.   I replaced every piece of store bought art with my own original work.  My house was like a little art gallery.  I replaced white walls with vibrant yellows and reds.  I took up kayaking and entered in to the MS 150 bike ride from City to Shore.  For a woman who was constantly criticized for her bad cooking, I was suddenly finding myself devoting Saturday mornings to making Linzer Torte and homemade spinach pasta.  No longer fearful of being condemned for a messy house, I was elated to put my infamous little stacks of books and papers wherever I wanted.  I was creating a space and life that was uniquely mine and for the first time in my life I didn’t mind being without a partner.  During my first marriage I rarely went anywhere.  I isolated myself in our bedroom for hours.  Now I was taking every chance I had to go out and throw myself in to social situations that would allow me to talk and connect to everyone.  It was marvelous.  It truly was.  But the turning point that started me on a long path of self-discovery happened when a co-worker challenged me to pick up my camera and get involved in a Flickr project which involved taking and posting one self-portrait a day for a year.  The first time I picked up the camera and turned it on myself I cried.  It was actually joyous because what I saw staring back at me was a beautiful woman who had locked herself away for years.  It’s true that the eyes are the window to our souls.  Once I took that first snap shot I was hooked and it wasn’t because of some vain ego thing at all; it was because each photo revealed more of who I was on the inside.  I needed to take those pictures to continue to evolve.  Of course the posting on line lead to connecting with other people globally.  Now a whole new world of endless possibilities to connect was at my finger tips.  I started a blog and realized that I could actually write.  Five years later, I’m still blogging and continuing to build and connect in ways I never could have imagined if you asked me six years ago.  I’ve since remarried to an amazing man and life is so good.  I feel like I’ve been given a second chance at living.  I’ve been rebuilding my life slowly.  Writing, I’ve discovered, has a voice inside of me that needs to come out and share itself with others on their journeys.

Mandy’s Click

Over the past few months I’ve trimmed my online time.  I don’t read as many blogs as I used to.  I do manage to read Musings of a Madman most days of the week.  I was introduced to Mandy through her insightful comments on that blog.  After reading some of her blog, I asked her to write a click story.  She agreed and during the waiting period (the time it takes someone to come up with an idea, write it, and send it to me) she posted the following entry on her own blog.  When I read it, I was very moved and wondered if she’d allow me to put it here as a click story.  After a week or two, I decided to write her and ask.  She immediately agreed, and still agreed to write another click story just for my blog at a later date.  Thank you, Mandy, for sharing your story here.  You can read Mandy’s blog here and follow her on Twitter here.

Endings and New Beginnings

A little over a week ago my husband and I hired a babysitter, got in the car and rode off to a quiet parking lot, got out of our car and had a very serious discussion. After almost 9 years of marriage and over 11 years together we both realized we are very different people.  We both knew this was coming. Mercifully we also both knew that we no longer made each other happy.

We decided it was time to end our marriage. Divorce. I never thought it would happen to me. Ed and I have had a happy marriage. We have supported each other, brought three amazing kids into this world and built a life that from the outside looked pretty damn picture perfect. Ed has stayed home with our children since Molly was a few months old. I leave each morning, go to work, and return each evening allowing Ed to go work, he also works on the weekends. Sure, we’ve struggled financially in the past couple of years, hell, who hasn’t? But we’ve managed.

Slowly however, you could almost see the distance between us expanding, as a river erodes away the land, time had begun to erode away our marriage. It was a gradual process, yet, Ed even says he wonders what we really had in common in the first place.  We began to have separate friends, watch TV in separate rooms, take separate trips, alternate “babysitting” so the other could go out, really began living separate lives while under the same roof. We didn’t fight much, an occasional disagreement, but not many real fights. We just found we had very separate interests.

I believe it is in the past year and a half as I watched my step dad succumb to brain cancer that I truly began to feel my marriage was not forever. Watching someone you love die is life changing. Watching my parents love story come to such a tragic end is heartbreaking. The pain in my Mom’s and Dad’s eyes as they knew their life together was coming to an end broke my heart, honestly, it still does. As I watched this process over the 18 months that it took from him to go from healthy and full of life to taking his last breath, I realized bit by bit, day by day, that I did not have this type of love. This love was rare.  However, I also didn’t want to live a life that didn’t include the possibility of this kind of love.

Am I romanticizing things a bit? Only in that I mention their love as it was at its best. They had struggles, they had fights, they had times it seemed they were polar opposites. The difference however is you could look at them, even in the throes of an argument, and you just knew this was a love affair of a lifetime.  You could feel their love for each other.

I think it is truly during this time when I decided I did not have that kind of love in my marriage. It took some time to let those feelings, those doubts, creep to the surface. I had buried them very deeply, as had Ed, and they had begun to fester. I began 2010 in what I feel was the beginning of a depression. I didn’t want to leave the house and when I was home I didn’t want to do anything. I wanted to sleep. I was tired all the time. I was empty. I cried as I watched my kids play and I didn’t have the energy to do anything with them. I went to my doctor so sure something was medically wrong. She ran test after test only to discover there was not anything physically wrong with me.

I left her office and sat in my van and cried. How could there not be anything wrong with me? I didn’t want to admit, even though I could hear a little voice in my head trying to tell me, that what was wrong was emotional. Gradually over the first couple of months of the year I began to let myself admit that perhaps my issues were with my marriage. That my issues were with this man I had built a life with, this man who was kind, loving, and an amazing Dad, this man that I committed my life to. I could see the love he had for me in his eyes, how do I break his heart and tell him, that while I love him I was not IN love with him anymore? That any dreams we had of raising these precious children under the same roof were over? How do you do that to someone?

It began to get more and more difficult to carry on the charade of happy wife and happy life. Finally Ed told me we needed to talk. I was floored. Could he be finally feeling the same thing? Could he have realized we weren’t in love anymore? Could he possibly have decided HE deserved better? I was in knots as I awaited that conversation.

The aforementioned car ride was horrible. It was quiet, uncomfortable and frightening. Were we really going to be on the same page? Is this an attempt by him to make things work or are we going to agree to dissolve this union?  When we started talking and we realized we had both come the same conclusion you could see the relief wash over both of us. Don’t misunderstand, I cried, we hugged, kissed for the last time and decided no matter what that our children are our top priority.

We are adults. We both know we aren’t meant for each other. I want Ed to find someone that will make him happy beyond measure. He is an amazing man, he is an incredible father and he is a good husband. He is loving, dedicated, hard working and deeply caring. He and I are just not meant for each other. I am sure some woman will come along and think I am crazy for letting him slip through my fingers. I hope that happens. I wish nothing more for him than the happiness I was not able to give him.

It is hard, however, I couldn’t imagine things being more smooth as far as divorce is concerned. We agree on every point, separation of assets, custody, everything. He is in the process of moving out and we will begin this new chapter in our lives. I will support him and we will raise our children together.

I am big on symbolism. It was interesting to me that this decision was made the day before Spring began, on the last day of Winter. I think and pray that it is a sign of a new birth for us. That as the flowers began to bloom, we will also find ourselves blooming and thriving in our new lives.

One last thought, please don’t feel sorry for us, yes, it is sad, and it is painful, but at this point we are better friends than we have been in a long time. We know there will be struggles ahead, but we are taking things one day at a time, respectfully beginning to unbind the ties that have bound us for all this time. We will support each other and be the best parents possible. We are both happy and excited about what lies ahead.

Stacia’s Click 2

Welcome back Stacia sharing another big moment from her life!

I was married for 10 years, almost 11 including the separation, but I don’t count that. I won’t go into how or why I got myself into the marriage or all of the awful things that occurred during the marriage (that would take another blog post or maybe a book to cover). This is about getting out and the “a-ha” moment I had in the midst of the insanity.

My ex was a vicious, threatening, horrible excuse for a person during much of the separation. He loved feeling like he had the power to screw up my life, even more than he already had. During one particular phone conversation, he was refusing to cooperate with anything that would enable me to take care of myself financially. He had run up debt that was either in both of our names or solely in my name. In fact, his accruing debt behind my back was the straw that broke it all and prompted me to kick him out months earlier. While listening to his booming voice-from-hell threatening to force me out of the house, thereby making me homeless and preventing me from keeping my animals, I went to the zoo! Or maybe I was trying to escape from the zoo. I threw my phone as hard as I could, and bust it into 20 pieces. It didn’t stop there.

I had remained calm and rational during most of the madness. Well, not this day. I went monkey-butt-marble-free! I was suffocating. I couldn’t breathe. I was swallowed by my environment. I couldn’t escape my past. It was staring at me from everywhere I looked and it was taunting me wicked. I looked around and all I could see was one of the same rooms I had shared with him for 9 years… the furniture we had chosen, the art prints and personal items we had acquired together. Meanwhile, he was sharing a new home with his 25 year old girlfriend (he was 42 at the time). He fucked up my life for years and then cleanly moved on and started over. I was left in the same mess… the same debt, the same house… the daily reminders and memories haunting me. I am not exaggerating here… I felt haunted and smothered! Let me be clear, I did NOT want him back. I wanted to be completely free from him.

I proceeded to rip everything off the walls, and throw and bash all of my framed pictures on the floor. I was crazed and I wanted to rip it all down and start over. I wanted my fresh start damn it! I hated everything my surroundings represented and of what they reminded me. I was on a rampage and it had to run its course.

What did I accomplish? A completely trashed room, a broken phone, and other demolished personal possessions. But something WAS accomplished in the end. While I lay on the floor sobbing, I had my “a-ha” moment. Who is going to come to my rescue? Who is going to pick me up off that floor? Who is going to make it all better? Who will make me happy again? I only laid there for a short time before I thought to myself… no one is gonna pick my ass up and make things better… except me.

I peeled myself off the floor and stood up with a refreshed outlook and plan of attack.

In that moment, I let go of anger and regret. The only person those malevolent feelings were consuming and hurting was me. I realized that I had needed that explosion of emotion to get it all out and in the end switch my energy and redirect my focus.

I looked at my situation and decided it was time to get real and take control. I contacted my car loan company, my mortgage company and everyone else I could think of to get the ball rolling to officially separate myself from the monster. I couldn’t wait for him to cooperate and do it with me. There were difficult days ahead. The separation lasted longer than it legally had to because he refused to sign papers. I also knew that his mood changed with the wind and I would eventually catch him on a “less-hateful” day. I had to be patient. I had to play the game to get what I needed and to get out for good.

He thrived on me getting upset. He had his way for the last time. My “a-ha” moment pushed me to research every possibility for taking better care of myself, to keep my home, to keep my animals… and it was also the last time I allowed him to upset me. From that point forward, any time he would act psycho and begin yelling over the phone, I would simply say in a calm, matter-of-fact, manner: “You are now yelling at me, so the conversation is over and I am hanging up now.”

The divorce was eventually finalized and now I can breathe. I can take care of myself. I have control over my life and my happiness.
A-ha!

Hope’s Click

The following click story was left in a comment on my “writer’s wanted” page.  Names and some details have been changed for privacy….

~Silly girl fairy tales aren’t real~

Lately on my Facebook page my friends may have noticed some bible verses and things about going to court and asking for prayers.
Of course no one plans on going through a divorce, not in the beginning.  I didn’t. Ah, I’ve been married twice to the same man. The second round we told each other contently how we must be meant for each other for three years to pass and us to fall right back into love like we never left. I loved him so much.  Neither one of us had jobs when I came back from NM after being in the air force… and then we both got jobs right away it. It seemed like everything was falling into place so quickly, I wanted a baby. I wanted to be settled, play house if you will. I’ve never been big on going out with the girls or even really had many girl friends. So what else did I have to look forward to in life? I wanted my life to have more meaning, I was depressed. In my head I thought if I have a baby my life will have more purpose… Not a lot of women will admit that they feel that way. So what a perfect time to have a baby.  I’ve mended my old marriage, I always planned on having a family with ‘Him’, at least in the beginning. I ask myself now why didn’t I look back at all the hurt he put me through before… and the only answer I can come up with is, well “Love is blind”, and also being a women or maybe being a Christian I forgive, and unfortunately forget too. I thought to myself we were young, stupid and out of our environment (away from home).

So I told him I wanted a baby, he of course was willing to try…(eyes roll). I wasn’t concerned about getting remarried because we already did that. I told myself God brought us back together and in his eyes we were never divorced. I came back from NM in March, moved in with him in April, got a job the same week… and found out I was pregnant in May. My son was born a month early on Jan 25, 2009. And spent 2weeks in the NICU. He is a healthy bouncing baby boy now.
I never really accused the father of my child of drinking the whole time I was pregnant. Although there were plenty of signs that he was. Those times he came home from the night shift and smelled of beer, I would ask him “have you been drinking?” When he would come in to kiss me goodnight… he would quickly jump in the shower. And then there was the time I found him passed out in his truck with it running, beer cans and him falling out of the truck when I opened the door. What happened to him while I was gone? He wasn’t this bad before he just didn’t work (he was too young to buy beer before). Then there was the time towards the end of my pregnancy; we had a yard sale trying to make room for the baby… He was upset about getting rid of some of his things and said he would help me with the yard sale as long as I let him drink. I said no, so he hid it.
By the time the time our baby was 12 weeks old I had no idea this was going on behind my back it all came out later how bad the drinking really was. I left the house and everything in it when our son was 12 weeks old. My son and I had nothing, just the clothes on our backs, it wasn’t a planned escape. His grandmother almost pushed us out the door, I now believe she thought she could get this new mother so upset I might leave the child with her… didn’t happen.
Stupid me we never married, but it could of been a good thing. Until the day came for us to go to court for child support. We made amends I never wanted any of this and besides it wasn’t his fault he took his grandmothers side and left us with nothing and never called to hear my side of the story or to even see his son, for 3months? But he could go to church and sit with the other babies and the nursery with his father also a recovering alcoholic…

After that we remarried
Again I forgave him we said we’d work on things, he would go to AA, we would go to counseling. He went to 2 AA meetings.
Then one day he was off the wagon… it got physical.
I’ve never felt the warmth of blood running down my face before. A bloody nose…
Anything after this point just seems redundant…
I knew my life would never be the same when I found out I was pregnant; I had no idea this was in store for me.
Well I remain hopeful, just like my name.

Ray’s Click

The following is written by a dear friend, Ray.  I met Ray at Unity Eastside where we were co-teachers of the Uniteens.  Like others I have mentioned before, I consider Ray one of my spiritual companions!  He has also been a dedicated reader of this blog from the very beginning!

 

It was a Friday and I had just returned from a conference in Palm Beach where I had been part of a team that had facilitated a workshop for those with developmental disabilities.  I was full of myself and couldn’t wait to share my successful experiences with my wife of two years and my newborn son as well as her two boys.  Imagine my shock when I walked into an empty, newly purchased home.  She had left me.  I walked around in a daze for that weekend and felt that on Monday my life would again reflect some kind of normalcy when I returned to work.  Upon arriving Monday, the Program Director called me into his office and told me that the program was going in another direction and  my position was being eliminated. My world was turned upside down.  Suddenly all the things that I thought provided meaning in my life were gone.  I had no savings, no means of support, and no future prospects. What was I to do? Life has a way of providing solace and opportunities to grow if we listen to our indwelling spirit. But then I knew nothing of an indwelling spirit.  I lived totally from my ego self which I defined as the sum of all the learning and experiences that had occurred in my life.  There was no other source that defined who I was. In an alone and depressed state, messages or guideposts started appearing in my life.  I had no idea where they came from but there were suggestions that I was to act on certain impulses.  I learned to trust and follow those impulses. This was, I learned, the inner higher self that we are all created to be but which is smothered by the conditioning (or programming) that has occurred since birth. Slowly, and I mean over a period of years, I began to change.  In retrospect, this is what I’ve learned.  I must pay attention to the higher consciousness in my life.  That higher consciousness has only one request. I must express love.  To do so, I must overcome the lower self judgments that I’ve learned here in earth school.  I must guard my thoughts and discern events in my life through a filter consisting of “is this an expression of my higher self or predicated upon conditioned programming?”. So where am I right now?  Well, I’m still here and learning lessons every day.  My purpose is to express joy and happiness to all that I meet and to live passionately in service to others.  I’m sure there will be other changes in my life and I look forward to them with a positive expectancy.

Judgment

So I typed this title and then stepped away from the computer.  A conversation I had today put this idea in my head, but I’ve been struggling with the right words and examples to use so that my post on Judgment doesn’t sound, well, judgmental.  Anyway, I just visited RockStarCarlene’s blog and read today’s post, which led me to the book “Notes From the Universe.”  I randomly opened the book to get “my” message and here is what I read.

“Isn’t it strange, how once you set your “gaze” upon something or someone, you get to decide what you’ll see:  good, bad, or ugly.  Yet still, you think “it,” or “they,” have something to do with your feelings and moods?” (Notes From the Universe by Mike Dooley)

I think this is a really good insight into judgment.  We see something or hear about something and we decide whether it is good or bad.  From there we may find ourselves impressed, offended, hurt, indifferent, or any other of the feelings that all stem from either love or fear.  Today I had a long conversation with someone about a date mix up.  Someone showed up for a party on the wrong day and when they were asked to come on the right day they had already made other plans, thus missing the party.  My friend was hurt that her friend was a no-show.  She expected her to change the other plans and make it on the right day.  But she was only working with her side of the story with no real details from her friend.  Instead of judging the situation as good or even nuetral (because the friend did arrive even if it was on the wrong day), she judged it as bad because the friend did not rearrange her schedule and cancel her new plans to be at the party on the right day.

The problem with judgment is that you don’t ever really know the whole story.  You may judge someone because they get divorced, only to find out they were in an abusive marriage.  You may judge someone for drinking heavily, only to find out it helps to quiet the voices in their head.  You may judge someone for being financially independent, only to find out they stole to gain that independence.  You may judge someone for getting a promotion at work, only to find out they sabotaged a fellow employee.

Every moment offers an opportunity for judgment…and not just in a bad way.  I struggle with this often.  I want to “judge ye not,” but I find myself moment to moment assigning the label good or bad to nearly everything.  I’m not sure when the “click” will happen that allows me to realize everything just is.  Every person is on their own, individual path.  Just because it is not my path does not make it better or worse than mine.  We are all exactly where we are meant to be.  Which also means we need to lay off on judging ourselves as well.  We are all where we are for a reason.  We’re growing and learning everyday….