On The Road Again

The word SO is the beginning word of almost every sentence by people uttered ’round these parts.

“Soooo… you go down to end of the road and make a right”

“Soooo… do you want pickles on your burger?”

Soooo…. where am I?

Well, I am on the road writing this from the spectacular country of Canada. Unlike California, it is green, fresh smelling, and water is everywhere. Barns outnumber people, roadkill is abundant, and sole proprietorships like JOE’S GAS STATION abound. I love it here.

This is an interesting trip for me. I am traveling with my 81 yo father who is starting to have memory problems. Makes for some interesting repeated conversations that start with “I didn’t know that!.” (He did) and end with “What did you say???? ” (Said at the top of his voice because his hearing is also going.) Getting old isn’t for sissies (or for their daughters.)

This expedition is special. My father is beginning to mellow a little in his old age. It makes for a closer relationship with him being a much better listener than when I was growing up. He chooses his words more carefully these days too. These are nice changes that I appreciate at my age. I also realize that he may not be around much longer so I am trying to make this a happy experience for the two of us and cram my head with memories that will sustain me when he is gone.

Two months ago, I decided I wanted to take this trip to Canada when I became genealogically frustrated. For years I have searched for information about where GG Grandfather was born, who his parents were, etc. I finally got tired of barking up the wrong trees and decided to come to the source to see if I could glean any new information. I am not hopeful as record keeping was done as an afterthought in these parts until the later decades of the 1800’s.  But I also know that information can often be found where you least expect it so I am going with that mindset for the next few days believing if I wish it hard enough that it will come true. Tomorrow we head further north to the place where my GG Grandmother was born in 1835.  It is hard to believe that I will be standing in the same miniscule town where she lived in a log cabin all those years ago. It must have been hard eking out a living as a farmer or miner in these parts of the country. I often wonder if people today could do the back-breaking work that are relations did before we all went soft.

This afternoon Dad and I spent our time together doing research at the local  public library but came up short. We searched through books, family histories and microfiche and found nothing. But it was enjoyable because I can say with good authority that there is nothing like the smell of old books. There is something about that odor that is comforting and takes you back to places that smell like cobwebbed attics or ancient barns. Old, yet, familiar smells. Like the scent of your grandmothers old wool coat or your grandfathers well-worn boots which smelled of pipe tobacco and stood up by themselves over on the back porch. The funny thing is, while I found nothing about my family, I did find something about B’s purely by chance. The information was contained within a book about the Donnelly family. I first found out about this saga several years ago when I was researching B’s family. To my surprise and horror I learned that one of B’s relatives had probably been involved in a mob killing of several members of the Donnelly family. It was interesting to read about it today from a fresh perspective and learn more about the movie that was made about this small town tragedy.

Tomorrow we will head out early as Dad likes to get a jump on the day. I think he believes that he has a limited amount of hours left on this earth and he doesn’t want to spend them laying in bed. No, by golly,  he wants adventure.  He wants to see new places before he passes. And he wants to find THE BEST chicken sandwich that has ever graced a hungry customers plate. This new attitude of his inspires me to want the same for myself.

So here I am on the road again. Just me, my old man and some new memories that the two of us are collecting along the way. Today, I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn about myself, my father, and my past. It truly doesn’t get much better than this!

BTW, you know you are in Canada when…

IMG_8154

DSC01870

DSC01868

 

 

Just Relax And Enjoy It

download-2

Last night I had a real honest to goodness date. I had my hair done earlier in the day and was dressed to kill. I had butterflies that were flitting here and there within my innards and I even wore eye liner. From my head to my toes; I looked hot for a woman of my age.

The date was with B. I was worried that things would be strained and that the only thing we would find to talk about would be the kids. I also wondered if I would need to have a drink to loosen up because I didn’t know if I could do what my therapist instructed… ‘Don’t project. Don’t think about motivations.  Don’t over-analyze. Just live in the moment and see and feel what is in front of you. Just enjoy what there is to enjoy and let the other stuff go.”

images-14

We drove to a little French restaurant another town over. The weekend clarinet player was doing his thing and the vibes going around the room were cool and groovy with a dash of sexy thrown in. Good clarinet music is almost as magical as sax if the musician knows the right mix “Give it to me baby,” songs and this dude was at the top of his game. This backdrop set the stage for a lovely evening of laughter, flirtation and lightness. It was the kind of night that second dates are made of.

After dinner we drove to a little massage place that we love. It’s cheap…$19 for a half-hour and you keep your clothes on. Okay, the soft touch is missing but the crunching of bones isn’t. By the time we walked out of there I felt like I had been run over by a truck and a massive headache had quickly overtaken me. That demure little masseuse definitely had the whole whooshie finger thing going on.

It was a lovely evening full of everything that makes a date special, yet, I have no illusions. I am no Cinderella and B is no Prince Charming. But it was nice to laugh, find some common ground, share memories, and just enjoy ourselves without all the anxiety that sometimes interjects itself when you are working to better your marriage and yourself at the same time.

images-15

Maybe we will make it to a second date or maybe we won’t. But one thing I do know is just sitting with the moments and recognizing what is good is a much better way to live than analyzing what isn’t. Being mindful of living in the present and letting go of the past made our date as close to perfect as it is ever going to get, and today, that is good enough for me.

So be it!

 

 

 

Accepting Yourself

images

As I work on learning to love myself again; I realize just how much effort it takes. Frankly, it shouldn’t. I am a good person, loving parent and partner, pay my taxes and volunteer. I don’t kick the dog, I praise little kids, and treat people pretty darn well. Yet, somehow, whatever I do or what I say is never enough to erase the tape it my head that says I am not “good enough.” The “maybe divorce” doesn’t help either. My husband’s questionable love for me taunts me with the false belief that if I was really “good enough” I wouldn’t be going through two years of marriage hell when in fact it may have everything to do with him and nothing with me. His fears, his disappointments with himself, his worries that he could die tomorrow and his wondering if this is all there is?

Sometimes I think it was easier to love myself when I was younger. I was naive, granted myself grace because of my youth, and I didn’t have a lot of living and experiences under my belt. With age comes plenty of time to look back over the past and see all that you “should” have done better. All you could have done differently. And as you get closer to death you start thinking about how you want to be remembered and shudder to think of some of the ways you might be.

268da51f96ca0c96c09460314783c777--wise-words-wise-sayings

As human beings we spend years cultivating relationships. We spend inordinate amounts of our time pleasing others and trying to prove our worth. We nurture those we love and spend time working on issues we feel are important because there are people who are involved that we respect and love. Yet, often we neglect to cultivate the most important relationship that there is…the one with ourself. We forget to take care of our needs, seek out those things that sooth our soul, and refuse to give ourselves the breaks that we grant our friends and loved ones. Finally, I am realizing that the internal relationship we have with ourselves must be maintained, nurtured, and worked on just like the external relationships that we share with others. In fact, we must put more into building the relationship have we with ourself simply because we are 100 times harder on our soul than anyone else. Most often, we are our own worst critics and that criticism that we direct inwards does more damage than anything anyone else could say or do to us.

images-1

When we are in love we love in hopes that it will last forever. When we cultivate friendships we hope that those relationships will be satisfying for each other until our last breath. We accept the flaws that we see in others so willingly; why can’t we do the same with ourselves?

I think it is because we resist acceptance of ourselves because there is nothing we have to do when we truly accept who we are and what is going on in our lives. We think that acceptance is too easy so we attempt to make it harder by telling ourselves we have to change and be something “better.” We have to make ourselves a new and improved version of our old selves to love ourselves and have others love us back. And while change may do us good we still need to just learn to accept ourselves with compassion and love no matter where we are in our journey. No more self criticism and no more beating ourselves up because we should be different than who we find ourselves to be or because we should have behaved differently than we have. If we accept ourselves we don’t have to fix, improve, or do it right all the time. We just have to focus on the here and now and who we are at this moment in time while accepting that we are doing the best we can within the confines of where we find ourselves today. It doesn’t mean that we won’t change it only means that we don’t have to in order to be lovable to ourselves and others.

Of course it is much easier to write all of this rather than live in a way in which acceptance of ourselves is the name of the game. It is hard work. But as we set aside uninterrupted time to spend with ourselves each day concentrating on who we are instead of who we are not; acceptance will creep in slowly until one day we finally understand that we are enough. Period.

So be it!

images-10

Thoughts on “Maybe” Divorce

images-6

“As you become more attached to yourself you will become less attached to the outcome,” my therapist says with a smile.

Sometimes I wonder about this statement. Although it seems true enough as I continue this journey of the “maybe divorce” sometimes I wonder if this attaching to yourself, this honoring your self and your desires, really means at some point that you just dial back the caring…maybe you just begin to not care anymore because the fight for keeping your marriage has cost you too much personally. Your anxiety has increased to the point that everyday you wake up wondering “if this is the day.” And while once I believed that this thought might kill me, now, sometimes, I just wonder if it would be a relief for it is difficult to live with a man who no longer loves you the way he wants to and the sadness plays out like recessed shadows etched deep into his face.

I know when this began two years ago I felt like the world was coming to an end. It seemed as though my heart was being ripped out of my chest and I couldn’t sleep at night. After all this time my anxiety about divorce and what it would do to my children has decreased but is it because I am working really hard on integrating all aspects of myself and discovering more about who I am or is it because I am shutting down? Perhaps I see the train wreck in the distance, so I move away, because I don’t want to witness the carnage firsthand. I also don’t want to deal with the repercussions that it might have on two boys with autism and one with mental health issues much less the fact that four of my children are adopted and have already suffered so much loss in their young lives.

And so I continue to work on myself. To find corners of sunlight and to open the shutters wide to let the sunshine flood into my life. I work to make myself more aware of what I am doing and why I am reacting in the ways that I do. I am practicing ways of building up my resilience and incorporating peaceful ways of thinking as a habit that I can rely on to keep me centered. And I am trying to learn not to allow negative self-talk rule my head and my heart even though it still wants to.

images

So if this work, if all this trying to find better ways of attaching to myself, is going to make me wiser, happier and more peaceful; I am all for it. For I am becoming a better me and I am finally doing all of this psychological work for greater self understanding of what makes me tick.  And if the “maybe” divorce comes to pass I think I will be in a much better position to retain my own dignity and grace during the process. And for me, that is what is important.

So be it.

images-13

Voices In My Head

th

Okay, I know this will sound kind of psychotic, like I am hearing “voices” in my head. But lets face it, we all do. Whether we call it our conscious,ego or intuition; there is something in our heads that from time to time influences and directs us. Usually, listening to this voice can be a good thing except when what we are hearing is negative self-talk about ourselves.

When I first started this “maybe divorce” journey I immediately took steps to change my attitude and my outlook on life. And it helped a lot and for quite a while. But lately I have realized I am slipping back into the negative self talk and decided that I needed to revisit those practices that I began which quieted this negativity. So I am back to “CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL”  when I hear negative self-talk, followed by the exact opposite of the negative said three times. It might look like this.

“He doesn’t love you”

“CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL”

“HE DOES LOVE YOU, HE DOES LOVE YOU, HE DOES LOVE YOU” or instead I just stop and look around taking note of what I see around me.

“OH THE CLOUDS ARE BIG AND FLUFFY WHITE TODAY. LOOK AT THOSE BIRDS SITTING ON THE TELEPHONE WIRE. MUST BE 20 OF THEM”

I refuse to give this negative self-talk the time of day.

So far this correction of my negativity has been helping to decrease it. By paying attention of what my inner dialogue is saying to me; I am aware of how negativity begets negativity and how negative internal dialogue influences your external life. Once again, I am reminded that living with negativity is such a caustic way in which to live on a daily basis.

As I contemplated this a few weeks ago it occurred to me that I am my worst critic. The “Constructive Criticism” or negative self-talk I indulge in is often cruel or mis-guided. It seems strange that I so readily accept it of/for myself. Because, frankly, if another person treated me the way I treat myself… if that person said the words to me that I say to myself… well, I wouldn’t put up with it. In fact I would probably tell that mean gurl:

“SEE YAH. DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE ASS ON THE WAY OUT!”

Yet, for some reason, many of us give this negative person who dwells within us too much power. We believe that THEY are on our side and have something valuable to say when in fact they don’t. We treat THEM like they are some sort of expert on how we should live our day-to-day lives. We give THEM the power to guide us regarding how we react to most everything we encounter during our day, when, this type of negativity does not need to be in charge of ANYTHING in our lives. In fact, when we hear it speaking, unless it is doing so with kindness and compassion, we should ignore it. We should refuse to believe anything it is telling us.  And we should “CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL” until we cannot hear it anymore.

Why? Because it is only natural that when we talk to ourselves with loving kindness that is how we will treat others. And if we can’t be nice to ourselves it is doubtful others will be either.

So today, be mindful of what you are saying to yourself. Listen and figure out if what is being said is coming from a place of compassion or one of self-loathing. And if it is not coming from a place of gentleness then walk away and leave those words behind. For there is only one you and you deserve to hear about the best of you and not the worst.

So be it.

th-1

 

 

Confusion

I have been thinking a lot about why my life seems so confusing at this particular point in time, at this particular age, and in regards to my marriage. Recent instances of confusion have included:

1.Why my relationship with my husband is so confusing and hurtful after over 30 years of marriage.

2. Why I give away my power so often.

3. What I should be doing with my life knowing where I am at in the present time and where I would like to be in the future on my life’s journey.

The dictionary defines Confusion as:

1.disorder; upheaval; tumult; chaos:

The army retreated in confusion.
2.lack of clearness or distinctness:

a confusion in his mind between right and wrong.
3.perplexity; bewilderment:

The more difficult questions left us in complete confusion.
4.embarrassment or abashment:

He blushed in confusion.
But I am not convinced that this is the complete definition of the word. I think it encompasses more and I think we have to get at our own truths in order to minimize the distraction that confusion brings.

I am beginning to believe that when you are confused, it is the result of attempting to cling to an illusion, faced with seeing your own truth standing right in front of you.  So these two images “Illusion/Truth” collide producing confusion. That is because one part of what we see is based on wishes and the other is based on the truths that we recognize deep within our souls.

All too often I think we ignore our truths or change them to fit what it is we think we need. We keep these illusions because they are easy or less painful than what we might have to do to be living in a way that is authentic for ourselves.  Eventually, I think that if you keep examining the confusion; you will find the clarity you need. But this will only happen if you are being true to yourself and honest about what you see.

As I struggle during middle-age I am beginning to think about how the confusion I am feeling might be the result of ignoring my own truths. How it might arise because I worry about what everyone else’s truths are and try to take them on as my own. How I try to FIX instead of just observe.

There are so many things I am discovering at this point in my life and confusion reins supreme. But one thing I do know is this: Confusion will stand right in front of you, blocking your way to the future and towards greater clarity, when you are not being true to yourself.

So here’s to truth. And here’s to vodka. I’m going pour me a drink because my head hurts with all the confusion floating around in it. And who knows maybe I will find that vodka brings about clarity quicker than being mindful of all this confusion.

Bottoms Up! It’s five o’clock somewhere!

images-11

 

 

 

Rare Days

Some days just turn out better than you think they will. B went home with two of the kids while Andre stayed with me. This can be a bit of a challenge because basically Andre likes to be left alone…completely alone. Here we are at the ocean basking in the coolness of the water’s fresh breeze and Andre just wants to stay in his room all day. As a person with autism, finding a spot to feel comfortable is his main priority. Dealing with people and the newness of places and situations are the crux in his craw. I did manage to get him to walk along the cliffs one afternoon but he complained the entire time and made the trip somewhat miserable. He does that when he is doing something he doesn’t want to do…he makes it taxing and a chore in hopes that you will never ask him to do anything like that with you ever again.

IMG_7842

So today, I woke him up and told him we were going to a town about two hours away to take the train. He told me he didn’t want to go on the train but wanted to visit the museum. Unfortunately, we got there 10 minutes after the museum closed so instead we went to lunch, walked around town and went into some shops. It really wasn’t his kind of day but on the way home he said, ” I really had a good day with you Mom. Thank you.” Needless to say, I almost fainted for he rarely lets you know if he appreciates something much less tells you he enjoys your company. It was one of those rare moments that is so surprising and lovely that it suddenly feels as if life has picked you up and carried you away to Nirvana. Everything is right with the world and your place in it and after a weekend in which B talked separation, it was such a nice place to be.

IMG_7828

Later this evening I went down to the Lodge. It was one of the situations that you are trying to talk yourself into doing. Should I stay home or leave. Which will it be? The stay at home option almost won out but I eventually, after a heated debate with myself, chose to go to the bar. I took my drink outside to one of the comfy Adirondack chairs and parked myself in it to watch the sun disappear over the ocean while pinks, golds and yellows filled the sky. Flocks of pelicans flew in V formation past the cliffs while Sid the Great Blue Herron strutted his stuff. The temperature was perfect, the scenery divine and I had the place to myself…until a tall good-looking man about my age appeared out of nowhere. As it turned out he was from the local Buddhist temple complex and as we sat and talked I became “enlightened.” I have always strayed to the edge of Buddhist philosophy for years while attending Christian church at the behest of my husband putting my own religious convictions on the back burner. The talk that this gentleman and I had soothed my soul and it felt nice to be appreciated and admired by a nice man again.

Yes, some days take you by surprise. Today was one of those rare and glorious days and it felt just like a day when my garden is in full bloom!

IMG_7826

 

http://odiyan.org/

 

50/50

images-3

The other day when we came close to calling it quits (and for all I know maybe you still are) I asked you how content you were with me. Your reply of 50/50 stunned me and knocked me flat to the ground. I never would have guessed that you are that miserable with me especially because I do not believe that I make life that unbearable for you or our family.

I remember when we were young and newly married I always thought that to have a happy relationship you had to feel content with your partner 90% of the time and at that point in our relationship I think we were. Perhaps I was unrealistic in thinking that 90% was the magic number to ensure happiness, but, frankly, I tend to still believe it and based on your 50/50 number it makes me realize that there may not be much hope for an enduring relationship with that low of a percentage.

If you are not content with me that much of the time then I can only say that it appears you have chosen to be unhappy with a life that I believe most men would be happy to live. If you are unhappy more than you are happy or close to it seems to me to be a waste of time. In fact, I would say that it is a squandering of the life you have been given. I have to believe that everyone on this earth should be content with their partner a heck of a lot more than that for love to be able to be shared at an emotionally deep, spiritually fulfilling and meaningful level. A level that stirs the heart and soul. A level that provides peace and introspection. A level that excites you and leaves you hoping for more and waiting with a sense of positiveness and  excitement of what the future holds for the relationship.

images-4

Ask and you shall receive it is said, yet, I persist on asking you questions like, “How content are you with me?” Finally, I am beginning to realize that these types of questions are self-defeating because they set me up for automatic failure and a sense of self-loathing due to disappointment in the answers I receive from you. Upon examining this phenomenon, I have begun to understand that I ask because I am a woman and as such I was raised to try to understand the emotions of others. I thought my job was to intercept the unhappiness that may be floating around and destroy it. I was taught that it was my responsibility to make my husband happy, my children happy, and, yes, even ensure that the dog is tail waggingly happy. That is not to say that I have always done this well just that I thought as a woman it was what I should attempt to do.

images-6

Yet,  I am slowly beginning to understand that I should not ask you those types of questions because your answer could change in a minute or an hour or a day.  And with this realization, I am beginning to ask myself why I choose to give you the power to crush me with your words. In all honesty, I think it is because I hope that by knowing these answers to these questions that somehow I can make it better. That I can try harder, be more, do more and all the other impossible quests that I have attempted to try an improve our relationship and to try to get you to love me again. To try to make you see that I am somehow worthy of your love because that is how women are raised …to be the caretakers, the heart tenders, and the mind openers. And if by some sort of miracle, everyone in our family is happy, that it is a reflection on me. That I have done my job well and that others contentment should make me happy too.  But I am beginning to let it settle into my soul that happiness in an individual thing. That I can no more make you happy than I can make the moon sing. Yes, I can contribute to your sense of well-being and happiness but I am not responsible for it.

Which brings me to my true thoughts on this matter. If you are 50/50 content with me then that is your choice and it most likely is not due to my actions the majority of the time. Frankly, I radiate a heck of a lot more than 50% happiness and contentment on a daily basis. For I am loving, kind and supportive, nurturing, content and enthusiastic a heck of a lot more than 50% of the time. That has been proven because we have so much good together including much laughter, great sex and a shared love of many things including adventure, discovery and travel. We have worked together to get what the boys need and have raised children that we can be proud of.  I can’t say that about very many couples I know who have been married the number of years that we have. So this tells me that you choose to see who I am and how we interact in a negative way despite whatever good it is that I do. And that how you choose to see me may be a result of what you want to see to justify a “maybe divorce” rather than how I truly am. Your negative mindset about me and our relationship has been an ongoing thing for the past several years and I am beginning to comprehend that is yours to deal with and not mine. That you choose to take what I say as being “disappointed” in you rather than just allowing me to express how I feel which may have nothing to do with you at all. Frankly, sometimes I believe that this “disappointment” you feel gives you an excuse to emotionally opt-out of the relationship because you can “never make me happy” rather than the fact that you will not be happy because you are choosing not to be of your own volition. You can choose to be happy or you can choose to be unhappy and only you can do that.

 

Therefore, in the future, I will try to refrain from asking those type of questions.  Because I am finally realizing that your perceptions may be skewed towards making your visions of what you  THINK you want your life to be, inconsistent with what our life together truly is.  Because it would appear that no matter what I do, no matter how our relationship evolves, that this marriage is not what you want for your future.  That I am not what you want for your future.  I cannot change that. Meanwhile, seeking answers that make you “question” things in our relationship that maybe should not be questioned is the one thing I can still change. And even though I still believe that “good” personal relationships seek enlightenment from that relationship by asking questions and examining the resulting answers; I am beginning to understand that good/growth/awareness can only come from these types of conversations if that is what the other is seeking too.

So take your 50/50 and ruminate on it a bit. As for me, I will choose to make myself happy even if it is without you. Because I have only one life to live and I intend to live the rest of it with a sense of well-being.  And starting today I will practice choosing to see the ordinary as extraordinary and that the world is a better place because I am in it. So sorry you do not choose to do the same.

 

Childhood Trauma

Attaching With Nothing In Mind

download

Okay, I will admit it. I have a slight attachment issue that stems from childhood that I am working on with my therapist. This issue makes trust more difficult for me than the average bear.  It puts doubt ahead of belief and fear ahead of calmness. Needless to say, with the odd things that have been happening of late regarding my marriage; my attachment issues have been magnified. Not to the point of  extreme anxiety but enough to make me feel uncomfortable that I can trust what I see in this relationship.

You would think I would have attachment down. After all, I adopted four children and worked extremely hard on creating an environment in which attachment could occur as easily as possible. I read every book ever written on it. And I followed all the advice on how to attach to a child who has been through trauma. Turns out, I should have been working on myself in regards to my adult relationships too.

This week I told my therapist, “Let’s get on with this. Let’s not dance around the edges of these attachment issues. Let’s tackle them head on.”

“You have been,” she replied. “You are learning to attach to yourself again.”

“I want more.”

So she gave me this assignment.

Just work on accepting the moments that are good. When B reaches for my hand, don’t question the act; just savior the moment. Notice what it feels like in that moment. Accept the emotions that you feel. Don’t analyze, just enjoy.

Well, of course, I had to push back.

“Why attach myself to someone who may not want me? Surely, if we divorce it will make it hurt all the more,” I moaned.

“You need to do this for yourself to feel closeness if only for a minute,” said THERAPIST. “You become more attached to yourself when you are able to let down your guard and discover yourself through your relationship. This process opens yourself up to you. You owe it to yourself to go work your way through it so you can become a stronger you.”

And so I am giving it a try with my whole heart. Just accepting his love, his touch, his words without over analyzing, questioning, or doubting. It is hard after being together for so long and both having a way that we interact with one another.

I’ll let you know how it goes as I try to trust myself and this process.

images-8