Gratitude

I can’t believe it. I feel so grateful for everything that is in my life. It is only recently that I can even realize the many blessings in my life compared to where I was. I currently have the most amazing supports in my life. I have some amazing local supports of friends who will hold me and love me through everything. I also have friends from throughout different stages of my life who love and support me from a distance.

For much of my life I didn’t feel like I deserved friends like the ones I have now. I didn’t think I should have people who loved me. It’s hard to imagine but I feel like for the first time in my life I am letting myself bloom, letting myself be happy.

I look at what I have in my life now and I know that I couldn’t have had this just a few short years ago. My ex-husband held me back. He didn’t want me to have friends. He was controlling. He was overshadowing. And I let it happen. I thought that was love. I thought that was what I deserved.

When he got mad, I also thought I deserved that.

When he lost his temper, I thought it was my fault.

When he blamed me, I blamed me too.

But there was an angel in my life who helped me to see a light. A brighter future. And a promise of something better. And for that I will be forever grateful.

Since then, I have realized that there is an amazing world out there that I am part of. That I deserve to be part of. That I make better by being part of it.

I always thought I was pretty accelerated at things. I was a good student. I excelled in my studies and I have always been pretty forward moving and goal orientated in my career. But when it comes to life, I guess I am a late bloomer.

I feel like a butterfly who has finally gotten out of my cocoon and out of the dark shadows of my past. I feel like I can finally spread my wings and fly. I feel like I deserve this happiness that I am now feeling.

gratitude

I am so grateful for the blessings in my life.

Each morning I wake up with a smile on my face for the amazing gifts I have in my life. That you to all those people who saw I was worthy before I did and who have helped me to embrace my new found sense of self.

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The Radio

Today’s blog post idea from The Daily Post was to start a post from the first lines of the last song you heard on the radio. For the most part I listen to Boston sports talk radio so while I would enjoy writing a post about the outstanding performance of Tom Brady and Jimmy Garapalo in last nights pre-season game between the New England patriots and the Carolina panthers I don’t think that was the intention of the post. So I decided that I would intentionally put on some music when I got in the car today. I don’t really like a lot of the music on the radio, which is one of the reasons I listen to sports talk radio, and of course because I love football.

I plug my iPhone into the receiver in my car and let it shuffle and pick a song. The first song that comes up is “Show you how to love” performed by Penatonix and amazing acapella group I love. I sigh. Why are all songs on the radio about love? But the idea behind the title “show you how to love” has me intrigued in several different ways.

Having spent the last year of my life struggling through a horrific divorce (is there really such a thing as a good divorce?) I think about needing someone to show me how to love again. I’m jaded right now. I’m hurt. I’m struggling. And I’m in that place where I don’t even want to think about love again. But that’s because what I thought was love wasn’t. So I need someone to show me how to love.

I’m also thinking about the idea of the song being about showing someone how to love me. Showing someone what I need and how to love and take care of me.

It has made me think about love again and what it means to me. Or what I want it to be this time around. At the football game last night I saw on older couple walking out of the stadium holding hands, wearing matching Brady jerseys. I love the idea of companionship and enjoying doing something together. At church I see the older couples helping each other out of the pew at the end of service.

 

For some reason old couples are who I’m looking at now. They are so sweet. Maybe that’s because I think about what it’s going to be like when I’m older and alone. Or maybe it’s because I still can’t think about being in a relationship now because I’m still so hurt and raw.

But I also have friends my age who have been married for over 17 years and are as in love today as they were when they met. I often tell them that they are my hope that there is goodness and love in the world. They ride with each other to a meeting just to spend the time together. They have special things they do for each other just because. They truly love being together. I guess that’s what I want. Someone who loves me enough to want to spend time with me and yet trusts me enough to let me spend time away from him.

I guess I need someone to show me how to love again. And maybe in the process I will be able to teach them how to love me.

Shaking my core

I am a strong confident woman. No one intimidates me. That might sound like a cocky thing to say, but it’s true. Not doctors. Not lawyers. Not professors. Not my supervisors. And not even those whom I supervise (and some of them can be fairly intimidating). I’m a vey intelligent, confident woman and very little intimidates me.

But one thing terrifies me: my ex- husband. I know that intellectually I can out wit him. I know that emotionally I’m a very strong person. I know that my life is better now than it was when we were together. But I also know that just the thought of having to see him or deal with him for anything shakes me to my core like nothing else.  I can’t quite explain it or justify it or even rationalize it. But he terrifies me.

All it takes is for me to see his name pop up on my phone.  Or see him when I drop off my son with him. Or see him in court. Just the thought of having to deal with him for anything, and I feel like I’m about to have an anxiety attack. My hands start shaking. My heart starts to pound. I can’t catch my breath. My stomach churns. Suddenly all of that confidence that I have most days is gone and I feel tiny and fragile and scared.

It disturbs me how much his name, his face, his presence can just shake me so badly. It is terrifying how this one person has so much control over me. I can’t make sense of it, but each day I am trying to move forward and figure out how to deal with this and how to regain my sense of self.

 

Intentional Distraction

Going through divorce is not easy. No part of it is easy. Even when you are the one asking for the divorce, it still isn’t easy.

So the day of my divorce hearing in court finally arrived (the one that actually happened after nine months of cancelled court dates for one reason or another).

I work in a junior high school so I go to work very early. Instead of taking the whole day off from work, I went into school in the morning, got the day started, went to a meeting, then left work and went to court.

There are so many meetings and discussions and sidebar conversations that happen before actually going into court that I sat in the lobby anxiously waiting my turn in court and checked my phone. Several friends sent me encouraging text messages such as:
“Hang in there.”
“Good luck.”
“Hope all goes well.”
“Let me know how it goes.”
“Take care.”
And, of course the obligatory, “Hugs”

Then I get another text, “Sorry I missed your text yesterday, Hope you enjoyed the sunny day.”

Totally random. Totally off the point. Totally made me smile. It made me think about the other “stuff” going on in life. Like the nice weather we were having and the fact that I have awesome friends who were thinking of me.

After several meetings between the lawyers and getting everything signed and agreed upon before going into court, it is finally our turn. It goes about as smoothly as it can for a divorce.

I’m feeling emotionally beat up and exhausted. I head back to work and get myself ready to finish up the day.

As the day is ending, a friend from work comes to see me and ask how everything went that day. I start to explain, then stop and say, “I got the most random text from your husband today while I was waiting at court.”

My friend breaks out into a huge, mischievous smile. “What did he say?”

“It was just totally random, replying to my text from yesterday and talking about the weather. It caught me off guard, and made me laugh.”

“Perfect. We planned it that way. Thought you could use the distraction.”

And then I smiled too. My friends are awesome. They think about me enough to intentionally distract me on one of the most difficult days of my life. They intentionally plan to send me a random text to take my mind off of the seriousness of the situation.

Divorce is still not easy. Even now that it is over, it is not easy. But my friends and the amazing people in my life make it a little easier by helping me focus on the good “stuff” that is going on in my life.

Safe place

In the midst of my divorce last year, when I had realized it was bad, but hadn’t quite figured out what to do about it, I had a few friends at work who I could talk to and trust. I still didn’t fully explain everything to them at the time because it was too hard to admit all of it, but they knew that things at home were rough and that I was having a hard time.

One of my friends who was always very kind and supportive of me and knew some of the basics of what was going on at home happened to walk past me in the hallway. He could tell just by looking at me that something was wrong.

He stopped me and asked, “Is everything ok?”

I put on a smile, like I always did, said “yes” but shook my head “no” as my eyes welled up with tears and my hands began shaking.

He knew I couldn’t get into the details in the hallway at school, so he didn’t push me, he just said, “Is there anything I can do for you?”

Half as a joke and half because I was terrified about going home that night I replied, “Can me and my boys stay at your house if we need a safe place to go?”

Immediately, without hesitation, he answered, “Of course.”

 

The next morning, he came to find me. He said he went home to his spouse and without going into detail about what was going on with me, he asked his spouse if my sons and I could stay at their house if we needed to. His spouse, who hadn’t even met my children or me yet said, “I’ll go make the beds.” No questions, no complaints, just support.

They probably never even thought twice about the offer for us to stay with them, but I did. I thought about it all the time. I thought about it when I was truly scared that I would have no place to keep my sons and myself safe. I thought about it when the thought of going home gave me anxiety attacks so powerful that I couldn’t breathe.  I thought about it when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do next.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that conversation was a turning point for me. Just knowing that I had a safe place to go (one my ex-husband didn’t know about and wouldn’t suspect) made me that much stronger. I had reached a point in my marriage that I knew that things couldn’t go on like they were, but I didn’t know how to change them or how to get out. I had been afraid that if I confronted him he wouldn’t leave, or he wouldn’t let me leave. And if we did manage to leave, I didn’t know where we could go.

Admitting to someone else that I might need a safe place to be to get away from my husband – the man who was supposed to love and protect me – made me realize I needed to do something about it, and soon. So that night I went home and packed an emergency bag for my two sons and me. I packed a toiletries bag and some school/ work clothes, pajamas and play clothes. I put the bag in the trunk of my car, knowing that we now had a safe place to go if we needed it.

We never needed to stay at their house. My husband did leave when I confronted him. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. But I survived, and I am stronger for it.

I am in a different place now, both physically and emotionally. And because of my amazing friends, I know that I still have a safe place to go when I need it. Now it is more of an emotionally safe place than a physically safe place, but everybody needs a safe place to go sometimes.

Where is your safe place?

It’s the strangest things…

Sometimes it’s the strangest things that get to you, and you can’t always predict what it is.

I hurt my back. I was in a car accident 20 years ago, a pretty significant one in which my elbow was crushed and my tricep was severed. It was as gruesome as it sounds. And the lasting effects have been just as bad. Ever since then the strength in my arm hasn’t been the same and about a month ago the pain in my back was so bad I ended up at the ER.

Today, I went back to physical therapy to address my back pain and try to strengthen and my arm. My doctor recommended this new physical therapy place and told me that she really liked the woman who owned the place. So for whatever reason I assumed I would be meeting with a woman for my physical therapy. But it wasn’t. It was a man.

The receptionist told me that “he” would be with me shortly and for some reason my breath caught and my heart started beating faster. I couldn’t really identify why, but I was shaking. So I stopped freaking out and forced myself to think logically about what was going on.

Then it hit me, my ex. He hated when I talked to men and he would have hated that my physical therapist was a man. He would have hated that this man was going to touch me, albeit in a professional manner, he would have freaked. And that is why I was freaking. 

I’ve been to PT several times over the past few years and when I first got the referral my ex-husband (we were married at the time) freaked out because my physical therapist was a man, a young man to be exact. So even though the PT helped, I began creating excuses as to why I couldn’t go so that my husband would be mad at me.

When I had to go to PT again, I made sure I had a woman therapist, which was fine, because she was awesome, but it was kind of stupid of me. But that was the kind of thing that I did. I always tried to manipulate the situation so that he wouldn’t get upset with me.

So here I am sitting in the office of my new physical therapist, a man, realizing that when I get home at night, no one is going to grill me about him, or about what he did, or if he touched me, or if I liked him, or make me feel bad about it. I could, very innocently go to a physical therapist and get help and not feel bad about it.

So that’s what I did. And I’m going back again next week…

No more secrets

In mid-March it happened again. He got mad. Threatened me. Harassed me. Controlled me. But this time a friend noticed that I was upset. He walked into my office and saw me in tears. I couldn’t say anything when he asked what was wrong. I just shook my head. And I lied. I said it was no big deal. I said it was nothing. But he knew it was something. He didn’t push, but later he gently prodded and was there to listen when I was finally ready to talk.  

When I first spoke about the reality of the marriage that I was living in. It became so much more real saying it out loud, so much more obvious how horrible and how wrong it was. But in another way, it was also freeing. I didn’t have to hide it any more. Some one else looked at my situation and justified for me that this relationship was not normal, that I deserved to be treated better.

I clung to that and began to see the destruction. It wasn’t until May that I actually did something about it and it was really just the simplest of things: I stopped.

I stopped covering.

I stopped conceding.

And I stopped hiding.

 

And then I started.

I started talking.

As I talked and as I looked back on the past I realized all of the things that I covered for and all of the things that I denied and all of the things that I justified in order to stay in the marriage. I felt like I deserved it. If only I could have been better, or not upset him or not done something then it wouldn’t happen. I felt like I had done something wrong. I felt like I was a failure because I couldn’t make it work.

But sometimes, it’s not about me. Sometimes it’s just bigger than me. And this time it was about him and his actions, not me at all. I couldn’t control it. I couldn’t control him. And it wasn’t my fault.

There, I said it, I wasn’t my fault. I’m sure I will need to say it over and over again before I really believe it, but it’s true. I couldn’t fix it and I couldn’t change it. I couldn’t change him. But I could change things for myself. I could get myself, and my sons out of this situation.

And that’s what I did; I got out. And every day I reassure myself that I did the right thing, that I’m strong enough to do this, and that it wasn’t my fault.  I know I have a long way to go to heal all of the wounds that I have. But I’m trying my best, everyday, to be strong and move on.

 

Unrevealed…

“Unrevealed until its season…”

In church today we sang a song that hit me for some reason.

In the bulb there is a flower

In the seed, an apple tree;

In cocoons, a hidden promise;

Butterflies will soon be free.

In the cold and snow of winter

There’s a spring that waits to be,

Unrevealed until its season,

Something God alone can see.

In the Bulb there is a Flower – by Natalie Sleeth

The song was so beautiful and it made me stop and think about myself. I know that I am a work in progress. I know that I’m not finished and I think that in many ways I too am “unrevealed”. I’m hoping that my time will come and that I will be able to bloom into something amazing.

I’m certainly working on it. Starting this blog has been quite an adventure for me. I never really thought of myself as much of a writer. I guess that’s a family thing. We are math and science people, but we never really focused much on writing. I never thought I was a great writer (I still don’t think I’m a great writer, but I find pleasure and comfort in my writing, that I’m going to keep doing it). But to my own surprise I find joy in writing and sharing experiences with people. I hope that you find some joy in reading what I write and maybe you will be there when my time comes to be revealed.