Finding Hope…326 Days To Fix This

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Joseph Addison once said ” Three grand essentials for happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.”

Lately my something “to do” has been to work on fixing our marriage.

My something “to love” has been trying to reclaim the love that B and I had once shared.

But hope for this relationship…well, I wasn’t feeling or seeing it. Maybe I had cut myself off from feeling hope. Because, realistically, if you have hope you have to go all in and not hold back due to fear, and frankly; I was feeling fearful, scared and the sense of trust to just let go wasn’t there.

This weekend I reclaimed hope and it felt wonderful. I am seeing the glimmers of a future together where last month I saw a black hole. I see a man who is trying like hell and a woman who is too. I see two people exploring each other again and finding that there is much to like and to love. I see two people who are sorry for the wrongs they have inflicted on each other and for words never said that almost mortally wounded their future together. Most of all, I see two people who really want this “marriage thing” to work out and who want our family to remain intact. And if our marriage still bottoms out it wasn’t because we didn’t try like hell.

This weekend hope felt like… moonlight walks around the lake, like long heart-felt talks around a campfire and just holding hands while watching Gracie fish. It felt like sharing a cup of coffee, getting a little grab-ass in the shower, and listening to the frogs croak their love songs throughout the night. Hope felt lovely, new, light and right.

Hope made me recognize that we are doing the hard work to put our marriage first and to make it work in a new way that is better for both of us. Hope has made us both want to jump all in. Sure we have a long way to go, much to negotiate and to learn new ways of communicating but I believe that for the first time we both have hope…and that is enough for now.

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Practicing Forgiveness…328 Days To Fix This

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Lately, I have been contemplating forgiveness and what it means to truly forgive myself and others. It’s often one of the hardest things to do. Yet, practicing forgiveness is often the most important thing we can do for our own mental/physical/spiritual health for it helps reinstate a positive outlook on life.

Forgiving someone is often problematic. It often is needed at a time when emotions are high and feelings of wanting to hold onto the righteous anger we are experiencing are at their peak.

So what is forgiveness? The best definition I have heard is that forgiveness is a shift in thinking that allows us to stop wishing harm on the wrongdoer. Instead we focus on feelings/actions that allow us to restore good feelings with that person who has inflicted pain. It means we begin to strive for unity with that person and search for understanding/meaning in what has happened.

Sometimes forgiveness is impossible but the majority of time it is doable. These are the things am reminded of as I work to practice forgiveness in my own life.

  1. Don’t keep bringing up the past. What’s done is done and it can’t be changed. Admittedly, I do not do this as well as I should.
  2. Give the benefit of the doubt. Believe that your partner did not set out to intentionally hurt you. Hard to do in the midst of pain.
  3. Accept an apology when offered. It doesn’t mean you have to be “over it” it just means that you are working towards that end.
  4. Don’t wait for the other person in your life to apologize. Sometimes they will, sometimes they won’t. Choose to forgive so you can move on and because ultimately forgiving benefits you.
  5. Be kind instead of right. In doing so you allow for faster healing between you and your spouse. You also set a positive atmosphere for future discussions with your mate. When you are kind it is noticed and kindness often comes right back to you in return.
  6. Try to remember that we are all humans. As humans we all make mistakes. Remember how when you make that next mistake you want to be forgiven in a kind and loving way.
  7. The harder it is to forgive someone, the more I am responsible. Letting go of hurts/anger is difficult but can be done. If you continue to not let it go you have to look at those parts in yourself that won’t and figure out why. Does this inability to let go truly stem from this incident or are hurts from your past keeping you stuck.
  8. Sometimes you just have to remember that they are responsible for their own wrongs. It doesn’t always have to do with you even though you might have caught in the crossfire. Let them own their actions so you can let the anger/pain go and get back to being you.

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What is Love? …329 Days To Fix This

Love.

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Everyone seeks it. Everyone needs it. We all want it.  Love…it is the best of all things. It completes us. It makes us whole. It defines us. It reminds us. It persuades us. And it changes us.  Never has one word been able to mean so much, to accomplish such great things and to explain so much about who we are; except maybe love’s polar opposite…hate.

Throughout the ages, love has been described in so many ways.

In Sonnet 116, Shakespeare describes love as:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

I’ve also seen love described as something as simple as shared happinesss  or putting their wants and needs first because you want to not because you have to.

E.E. Cummings describes love in this way:

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail
it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea
love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive
it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky
Love quotes abound:
You are the first and last things on my mind each and everyday-Unknown
 “You know when you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” –Dr. Seuss
“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.” — Victor Hugo
“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.”  — Helen Keller 
“To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved, that’s everything.” — T. Tolis
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” — Lao Tzu
Lately, one of the most important things I have come to realize in this journey to capture love again is that love changes over time. A lot. That it ebbs and it flows. That love is that thought that you want that person to be happy even if you are not to be a part of their happiness. That you want the best for both even if it means breaking each other’s hearts. But most of all, right now in this moment, I believe that Love Is…the ability to stay when you don’t want to because you still believe and have faith that there is something much better up ahead for the two of you. To me, today, that is what love truly is.

How Do I Learn To Trust Again?… 330 Days To Fix This

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How do I learn to trust you again?

When a man doesn’t share his feelings, keeps everything close to the vest, inhabits your world but doesn’t let you inhabit much of his; how do you learn to trust his words and actions and believe what he says?

When a man fails to tell you of his despair and comes to you with, “I think I may want a D.I.V.O.R.C.E.,” how do you know that he won’t walk through the door, pack his bags, and just leave even though he tells you he is happy now?

Like a Greek tragedy, I just can’t forget your words as easily as you dismiss your intentions. I see/hear your words, D.I.V.O.R.C.E. re-playing in my head, scratchy and skipping parts like an old movie soundtrack. They are rough like the ocean banging into the rocks on the shore, removing a grain of the rock every time it gets hit. Your words echo in my head.

You tell me everything is so much better…for who?  For who is it better? How do I know that your words honor the truth of what you are feeling deep inside in those places you refuse to share with me? Because I don’t feel better and I am not sure how you could feel better about our relationship, so easily, and with such little effort.

Sure we laugh more, since you outed some of your feelings. And the sex is incredible. And the house looks great. But I don’t feel better because I don’t trust that this is real. I don’t trust that this, that I, am enough for you because I have so often not been. Yeah, those “harmless” flirty texts they have done a number on me and my trust is serrated instead of smooth. My trust in you, in us, and in myself is lacking. It’s incomplete.

Because how do you go from miserable and “I may want a D.I.V.O.R.C.E.” to everything is great…and I am happy in 35 days? I don’t trust this. I don’t trust you. But I want to. Desperately.

How do I learn to trust again?

I wish I knew.

32 Days And I Drank The Kool-Aid…332 Days To Fix This

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So it had been 32 days of no yelling. Not one single loud voice, one yelp or one shiver me timbers shout. Not one shrill sentence, not one whoop, nor one holler. My lips have remained soft and my mind has remained focused on being the best new me I can be. I have gone where I have never gone before. Until this morning when I went to the well and drank the Kool-Aid.

I was getting the kids off to school. Paul is still in the hospital but Andre and Gracie were at home when Andre The Master Manipulator started “poking” at me looking for every hidden button that would possibly set me off. Everything I said was met with a total ignore or a “NO.”  Sometimes autism just sucks.We were 2 minutes from heading out the door when I realized Andre had purposely neglected to do something that needed to be done. And that’s when I lost it.

“I told you to _______” And as I said the last word I realized I was yelling. It scared the crap out of me because I didn’t even comprehend that the decibel level of my voice had risen to the sound of a fighter jet during a fly-by until the 5th word. At that point I caught myself and abruptly stopped, then whispered quietly to the universe and my kids, “Oh darn, I just yelled for the first time in over 30 days. I am so disappointed in myself.” I had just received my 30 day chip only to have it fall out of my hand.

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And so, like an AA member who has slipped, I start the process over. More meditation tapes, more quiet time, more bubble baths, more positive thinking and more contemplating what it means to try to incorporate this “new” me into the old. I worry about what this one act will do to my relationship with my husband whose tolerance for failure, while usually decent, is still tenuous towards me at this point. I am glad he is away as I couldn’t bear to see the disappointment in his eyes.

Yet, as I hang my head in shame, I realize that this “no yelling” business is a process that calls for diligence and patience with myself.. I am trying… trying harder than I have tried to do anything in my life and it is not a time for self-lashing. For tomorrow is another day…DAY 1.2 (the improved version) OF NO YELLING!

Cheater…Cheater…P**** Eater

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Recently a blogger I follow asked if publishing a blog about the state of his marriage without his wife knowing was cheating. I replied:

I think that it is perfectly okay to do something for ourselves and if blogging makes you feel better and you enjoy it, then by all means do it. That said, you probably are cheating on your wife IF you are investing more energy on your blog then in fixing your relationship. Or IF you are developing secret “relationships” that might interfere with getting closer to your wife because you are expending a sort of intimate energy on an “on-line” person. If however, you feel you are learning better ways of relating to your wife and family by the comments you are receiving then more power to you. We all have ways of gaining knowledge and if this improves your outlook, happiness, etc. then you are only improving what you will take home to your honey.

And I stand by my response because it doesn’t involve sexual acts or emotional intimacy with another person besides his wife. But what about cheating on a broader level? At what point is the line crossed between “behaving badly” and cheating?

An old boyfriend of mine used to say, “Getting head isn’t cheating” and that is precisely why he became an OLD boyfriend of mine.

But if getting head isn’t cheating, what is?

Well, in my book, sexual cheating occurs not because of any specific sexual act but when a partner keeps secrets of a sexual nature from their partner. Viewing porn, having a fling, having an “intense” emotional relationship, or visiting a strip bar is fine and dandy as long as your partner knows about it and has no problem with that particular behavior or set of behaviors. This means both partners must act with integrity and make their significant others feelings their number one priority. There can be no lying, no keeping secrets from one another and no saying “yes” when what you really want to do is say no. This is because the only true path to genuine intimacy in a relationship is when total transparency and honesty prevails. For it isn’t the sex act itself that causes a marriage to implode, rather it is the secrets and lies that betray relational trust that is what eventually kills the bond between the cheater and his/her mate.

So “cheat” away…but only if you tell your spouse first and they agree to the fling. Otherwise, get a divorce and then go live out your wildest fantasies where the only thing that can be hurt is your wallet and your own pride.

Holding Hands…334 Days To Fix This

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Late last night B and I sat in the hospital as Paul had emergency surgery on some broken bones he sustained earlier in the day. We had some amazing/heartfelt discussions and a make out session or two in the stairwell by the waiting room. Two screws (no, not us), several wires and a cast later Paul was ensconced in a hospital room for the night.

Today, as I reflect on our discussions one thing is abundantly clear to me. When I lay dying and my last breath is near, the person I want to be there holding my hand when I cross over to where ever it is I am going is B. He knows me inside and out. He loves me like no one else has or can. He has trusted me, he has encouraged me and he has listened to me when doubt was my best friend. He is the love of my life and has walked beside me even when he wanted to turn around and leave me alone on the trail. He is my strength, my solace, my laughter and my joy. In short, he means  everything to me. And lastly, I know he will be the one sending up a prayer to Saint Peter, “Saint Peter, please cut her a lot of slack and let her in anyway.”

So who do you want by your side when you take that last breath and what are you doing to ensure that they will be there?

A cab driver reaches the pearly gates. St. Peter looks him up in his Big Book and tells him to pick up a gold staff and a silk robe and proceed into Heaven.

Next in line is a preacher. St. Peter looks him up in his Big Book, furrows his brow and says, “Okay, we’ll let you in, but take that cloth robe and wooden staff.”

The preacher is shocked and replies, “But I am a man of the cloth. You gave that cab driver a gold staff and a silk robe. Surely I rate higher than a cabbie!”

St. Peter responds matter-of-factly, “This is Heaven and up here, we are interested in results. When you preached, people slept. When the cabbie drove his taxi, people prayed.”

There were 3 men who died and before God would let them into heaven,
he gave them a chance to come back as anything they wanted.
The first guy said ” I want to come back as myself, but 100 times smarter.
So God made him 100 times smarter.

The second guy said “I want to be better than that guy, make me
1000 times smarter.
So God made him 1000 times smarter.

The last guy decided he would be the best.
So he said “God, make me better than both of them,
make me 1,000,000 times smarter.
So God made him a woman!

Three friends die in a car accident, they go to heaven to an orientation. They are all asked, “When you are in your casket and friends and family are mourning upon you, what would you like to hear them say about you?

The first guy says, “I would like to hear them say that I was a great doctor of my time, and a great family man.”

The second guy says, “I would like to hear that I was a wonderful husband and school teacher which made a huge difference in our children of tomorrow.”

The last guy replies, “I would like to hear them say…….LOOK, HE’S MOVING!!!!!!!!!

The Road Not Taken…335 Days To Fix This…29 Days Yell Free

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Robert Frost’s A Road Not Taken is a mystery to poets and critics alike. To author, David Orr, Frost’s poem is, ” a commentary on the self-deception we practice when constructing the story of our own lives.”

And I think that could be true.

For we all practice self-deception of one sort or another in order to stay with our significant other. We re-write the stories we tell ourselves about why we love, why we stay, who we love and the games they play in order to make the story comfortable to us. We all make up stories which allow us to go on with our lives. “He won’t hit me again”, “He’ll fall in love with me again”, “We can survive this,” are the words some say in attempt to change the storyline and make it “fit” into how we imagine the story of our lives should go.

In this vein, I suspect if you asked most men when they hear the words ” The Road Not Taken”  they would say it takes them back to the  women who have inhabited their lives. For it seems to me, that men are often following that Road Not Taken back to the past; wondering if Anna would have been a better lover, if he would have had more in common with Jane at this point in his life and if Jennifer would have been a better mother.  Often, it appears to me that men “regret” losing the woman on whose path they did not travel, while women “what if” or “if only” the road they chose to take. Men seem to let go of their culpability in the demise of a relationship while women, well we, “if only” ourselves to death. “If only I was thinner I could still be married to him.”

Me, I am trying to take a fresh approach on Frost. I think that what he meant was that we as people are altered with every decision we make when we step onto one road and leave one behind. As a result we need to make decisions that will bring us to our best and true self. And that whatever road we have taken we must make it the best road for us. One full of life. One full of hope. One of love, compassion and grace. We can’t turn around and take the “other” road but we can enjoy the one we are on. So today, I am going to take hard,strong, meaningful steps on my path. I will leave the tip-toeing around for another day.