Just Relax And Enjoy It

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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.”

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Thoughts on “Maybe” Divorce

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“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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http://odiyan.org/

 

50/50

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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.

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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.

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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

The Call

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About six weeks ago I received “THE CALL.” It was a call that immediately increased my distrust of B and our life together. It was a call that put some ice into my marriage.  It was a call that increased my anxiety and set me down a path of self-doubt. It is a call that I was still ruminating about all these weeks later but have recently decided to drop, like a stone in water, and I don’t let those ripples effect me as much these days.

THE CALL came from my ex-brother-in-law who was divorced from B’s sister (M) twenty years ago. M is who my husband shares all his confidences/doubts about our marriage with. She has been divorced three times and in multiple relationships all of which she has left while in an affair. Yes, that is who B is turning to for advice. This man and M share a child and the last time I talked with him was one his daughter showed up on our doorstep higher than a kite on meth. So needless to say, I was quite surprised to hear from him.

Now to tell you the truth I am not sure if he had been drinking but I suspect he had been. That is his MO but on this particular night I couldn’t say. He called to tell me that he heard that B and I were breaking up and that we shouldn’t do it. That we had something special. That we needed to stay together for our children and ourselves. That we should not give up.

Of course my first thought was is this something he just learned and I am unaware of or is this from sometime back, say, January when B came home form China and said he wanted to separate? Just another confusing thing for me to try to figure out and digest. Another thing which makes me unsure of this relationship. Another thing that made me feel distrustful and angry.

My second thought was why is his sister, whom I don’t talk to since I saved her daughter from her meth addition, going around blabbing our business?

A few days later after discussing this with B, was, have you talked to your sister about keeping our business confidential? He said NO.

Now six weeks later I find out from M’s daughter that she had been asked to come out here  had I decided to leave B back in February when I hired a lawyer.

On the one hand I think well that’s B for you. Planning ahead, Getting his ducks in a row. On the other hand I just keep feeling like little bombs keep blowing up around me:

  1. B coming home in January stating he wanted to separate.
  2. The whole hiding his phone from me incident
  3. The phone call from the ex BIL
  4. And ….

And so I went back to feeling vulnerable, confused and angry. But happily I will say this…I am not longer anxiety ridden. I have finally made it to an attitude of WHATEVER HAPPENS HAPPENS and with it a calming sense of peace prevails, that, while occasionally punctuated by his crap, remains something that I hold on to and fills my soul with sanity.

It is a good place to be and I am thankful for all the hard work I have done to get me to this place after the past two years. It hasn’t been easy but I know that whatever happens I am strong, determined, confident and I can handle whatever is thrown at me. And that, my friends, a pretty great place to be!

 

 

 

Negative Chatter

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My inner spirit has yet to be rekindled. I may have written about the importance of it a couple of weeks ago but for some reason I have yet to feel the spark. I have not been taking the time for me and as a result negative chatter is filling the air around me and is so thick I could cut it with a knife.

THOUGHT #1

“Why keep trying? He will never love you like he did again.”

THOUGHT #2

“Yes, I could have bet on the fact that I would be unable to reach B while he was at dinner with FRED and by golly I was right. Why is this? What is going on here?”

THOUGHT #3

“Can I ever trust again?”

Yep, my brain is suddenly like a chipmunk after a peanut…darting here, there, everywhere…but no place healthy or good for my soul.

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My headmaster just keeps churning out negative thoughts day in, day out. But why?

Is it because I am still so unsure of myself?

Is it because I am so unsure of my relationship?

Is it because I feel I am not being true to myself?

Is it because increasingly I feel like abandoning ship because I feel like nothing I do is ever right?

Or is it because I am just plain tired of the constant pushback that two boys with autism seem to relish every chance they get?

Whatever it is I know that I need to work hard to get rid of it. Because all this negativity is like wallowing in a shit-filled cow barn. If the methane doesn’t kill you the stink certainly will, coupled with the fact that there is so much of it piled around that I am afraid that I will get sucked down into it …never to return.

So, I am trying to implement past strategies that have worked.

I am shouting in my head “CANCEL, CANCEL,CANCEL” when a negative image or thought appears. I then look around and make a running commentary of what I see:

“Wow the sky is blue today. Look at that big fluffy cloud overt here. It looks so clean and white”….and so on.

Today I meditated and practiced visualization. I am trying to exercise more.

Yet, nothing is removing that chipmunk, whose cheeks are filled so full of negativity, from my brain. It’s kind of like having Alvin singing “Christmas Time Is Here” in your head 24/7 meaning that the A on Alvin’s shirt doesn’t just stand for his name.

 

I read this piece to my therapist. She says the rekindling has not begun because I am not using the proper things to build the fire with. The first being self love which has diminished so much since the “I might want a divorce.” Somehow that love of self has wafted away like the smoke that comes from lighting a fire. It no longer feels like I need a bit of kindling. Instead, it feels like I need to burn down an entire forest to revive my inner spirit.

My therapist also says that living with no air conditioner in 110 degree heat 43 C also fries your brain. She says she suspects this is what I am actually suffering from today. But all I know is the part for the air conditioner won’t come until Monday and someone better hide the matches because something is about to go up in smoke!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Straight Out Of Compton

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The “Maybe Divorce” has changed me. Some for the good and some of it for the bad. On the good side I am communicating better with everyone in my life. I try to put thought into my words instead of allowing them to just out like the overfill on a dam. But on the negative side is the sense of impending doom and the inability to trust what I see right before my eyes. Whereas before I believed what I saw now I over analyze EVERYTHING and it is getting me nowhere but confused and unhappy.

Take this morning. I told B I loved him. There was no I love you back. Before it would have been, “okay, he is thinking about the meeting he has this morning” types of thoughts running through my head. Now, it is that is the third time in two days that he has not “loved me back.” Now, if I could leave it at that…an observation…it would not be a problem but instead the mind starts working overtime.

“What does this mean. Is he saying he doesn’t love me because he is not saying it?”

“Oh no, it looks like we might be going back to the abyss again”

“I’ll try again tonight and see if that same non-response is there and if it is I will…”

 

And so it goes. A downward spiral into believing that he doesn’t love me, we aren’t staying married and the whole list of things that my brain hops to when this sort of thing happens. Frankly, it makes me sad. Sad, that I no longer believe that our love is invincible. Sad that at times I am like a wounded bird afraid to fly. Sad that I am no longer that confident “go FUCK yourself” kind of woman that I once was. Sad that I take myself to those places that I do not want to visit…the COMPTON of my mind.

My therapist says that I am getting there. That when I learn to trust myself again I will be able to trust in what I have and not worry about it. I will become secure in my truths and will know that what I see really is what there is out there and that I am recognizing those things I need to concentrate on for myself. But I am two years in and I sometimes I think, “enough is enough. You should have this down by now. No more going to COMPTON…a dangerous and slimy place. No more going anywhere but somewhere you WANT to go. A pleasant place and a place that makes you feel warm and loved like a batch of cookies right out of the oven.”

Maybe one of these days I will treat myself right. Stop letting the negative grab hold and start believing in myself again. But I am unsure. I am heading into my older Middle Age and sometimes it seems to me instead of becoming wise I am becoming dumber…not doing those things that I know I should be doing and not thinking in a way that brings joy and peace. Frankly, I hope I learn how to do this positive spin sooner than later because I want to be headed to Oregon and COMPTON is the opposite way from the direction I want to be taking.

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Feelings And Fish

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I am not sure this will make sense but I am sure going to try.

Today was THERAPIST DAY. It was a doozie. She always makes me think and dig deep to find my own truths.  This is what she said to me that made me have an “A-hah!” moment. It was something I “knew” yet something that was not yet crystal clear to me.

You would think that at middle age I would have “gotten” this before or at least been observing it under the lens of magnification before, but suddenly today it became very clear. Like turning the dial on the microscope and finally being able to focus in tightly and clearly on the subject, which in this case just happens to be me.

After telling her about how I felt sharing my feelings in my relationship was important and anything less was somehow dishonest, she said, “No one else is expected to honor your feelings except you. They are yours alone. Stop expecting that B will honor what are yours to carry.”

Really! I thought that was what marriage was suppose to be about. Honoring the relationship, honoring one another in that relationship. Apparently not when it comes to your own feelings. No expectations here because all you will be is disappointed. Yeah, I know, the Buddha says the same thing.

“Stop worrying about the stuff up there, what B is doing, what B is thinking” she said looking upwards. “Go deeper and dig to find your own truths. Think of it this way. You know when you walk in one of those aquarium  tunnels and the sharks and fish are swimming above you?  Sure, you could worry about all the murky stuff floating/moving above you, the weight of all those millions of gallons of water, the sharks breaking free and swallowing you whole. But seriously, if you have your feet planted firmly on the floor examining your own truths (these tunnels are safe) and not worrying about the sharks swimming above you, you will finally relax and enjoy what it is you are seeing.  And you will soon see the truth. Your truths. The truths that you are meant to discover. Eventually you will just enjoy watching the fish and will discover that you can ignore the poop that is floating above you. In fact, by ignoring the other (fish poop, worries about tunnel caving in, etc.) then you can really get into it and experience all the wonder of the relationship around you. ”

Now, somehow I am suppose to transfer this bit of fish lore to my life and my relationship with B. I am not exactly sure how, but said therapist assures me that as B is left to look at himself, instead of me trying to get him to see all that is floating around in the water with us; everything will soon become much clearer to me…and to him too. This doesn’t mean everything will turn out the way I would like but at least with clarity comes a sense of truth and knowing what you are doing is the right thing for you… and this woman needs a boat load of that.

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