Saturday, November 24, 2012

I just can't say it right now...

It’s been a while since my last post. I finished school, celebrated Thanksgiving, and got rejected by several more employment opportunities. Life continues to move forward even though I don’t feel like I am.

It’s hard to know what will happen over the next few months. My ex-husband is taking me back to court, I’m desperately trying to find a job, and the holidays are in full swing. It’s a time full of excitement and happiness but the dark cloud is ever present.

It’s frustrating because I have so many reasons to celebrate. I have so many wonderful blessings to be thankful for. I should be on top of the world.

There are some minutes during the day when I do feel on top of the world. I’m so happy and full of energy. The children are happy and Robby is happy and I see their smiling faces and I want to be happy, too. But then that empty feeling sinks in and I feel anxious about all those dark clouds and worry about how things will turn out.

Over the past several years, I’ve worked hard on acceptance, forgiveness, and the need to let go of guilt. I have also realized that those actions have to be on a constant loop in order to keep moving forward in life.
I used to pray a lot. Now I find myself doing it less and less. I realize that happiness is harder to obtain the less I pray, the less I forgive, and the more guilt I take on. I know these things, but yet I have done nothing to restart that constant loop.

It’s time for me to refocus and concentrate on the realities in my life that I have been avoiding. It’s time to be humbled once again. It’s time to accept the things that I cannot change. It’s time to move forward even when I don’t feel like it.

A close friend of mine sent me an email over a month ago with the following mantra. She told me to say it over and over when I begin to feel the anxiety and worry about things I have no control over.
1)      I love you
2)     I’m sorry
3)     Please forgive me
4)     Thank you

I haven’t done it yet because I just can’t bring myself to say these words about a person that brings me so many frustrations and continues to disturb my happiness. How many times do I need to try to forgive? Shouldn't I be past this already?

My friend explained what the prayer is about.
1)      I love you…. The higher aspects (the Soul) of the person
2)     I’m sorry….. for having these feelings and thoughts / sorry you are having these feelings and thoughts / sorry I’m a part of this scenario….
3)     Please forgive me… for having these feelings and thoughts / for judging you….
4)     Thank you…. for clearing these feelings and     thoughts/ for allowing me to clear these feelings and thoughts

She claimed that by saying the abbreviated lines while thinking about him and while feeling God, I would open the doors for healing. But I’m skeptical because I've tried forgiveness so many times only to have the door shut in my face with a new problem that throws me back into the cycle of being angry and upset again.

I don’t know what the right answers are or who I should forgive and why or when. I don't know if I should be angry or if this is just the way my life is always going to be and I need to just accept it and continue to push it further and further to the back of my mind.

I don’t think there are any right answers in life. But I do know that life has a way of reminding you that you need to always protect yourself with prayer—even during the really great times. You never know what evil lurks or what evil has planned for you. 

I truly believe God has a plan for me and that all these bad things have to happen to get me to the place in my life that I moving toward. I guess I should relish in these trials because I know they will ultimately make me the person that I am supposed to be and my faith will continue to grow stronger.

But, today I just cannot find the way to say "I love you" despite what you continue to do to my family and me. But I can say "thank you" for making me the person I am today.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Maybe I'm Not a Loser?

I stumbled across some old drawings from the children the other day that made me stop and think about what is really important in my life. For the first time in a while, I quit feeling sorry for myself about not finding a job and being flat broke. I decided to even pat myself on the back and admit that I have done pretty well for myself despite the hand I was dealt.

I don’t see myself as a materialistic person. I try not to measure my success by the size of my bank account. But sometimes I feel like a total loser for not having a full-time job. Unemployment is beginning to wear on me and affect my self-confidence.

I’m worried that I won’t be able to follow through on my financial obligations and I’m even more worried that I am going to become a very large burden on my very sweet husband. I know he can handle it, but I like to think of myself as an asset and not dead weight.

But those little pictures made me remember that I am not a loser and that no matter what happens in my professional life, there are people in my personal life who will always love me. And while I really need that steady paycheck and health insurance, I will gladly settle for little reminders from two very special children who will always think I am the greatest mom ever.

So my advice today is to forget about your professional aspirations and accomplishments or your failure to reach those aspirations. Take comfort in the fact that being a good person far outweighs the tiny print on your business cards. Find a way to make peace with a dwindling bank account, gray hair, and an old worn-out minivan.

Luckily the world is not over yet. I still have time to make those career goals come to life, but for now, it’s just not working. The stress is beginning to take a toll my health. I’m taking a break from the chaos and the rejections and focusing on the things that I have control over. I’m going to sit back and soak in the fact that I have made a difference in people’s lives and that is worth more than a big title on my resume.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Master of my destiny

About once a month I get a day when I can lie on the couch and watch television while the children do their homework. It usually lasts for about 20 minutes, but I enjoy it. Yesterday was one of those days.

I watched a little of Katie Couric’s new talk show and Sharon Osborne was her guest. Katie asked Sharon if she believed that women can have it all—career, marriage, children, etc. Sharon’s answered shocked me because I figured she would say, “Of course.”

She said, “No, I don’t believe that and I wish I could go back in time and give up all the money and the traveling and spend time with my children because they needed me.”
Not everyone can be that honest—especially on television.

I don’t believe you can have it all either, because in order to do something really well, then something else has to be placed on the back burner. I can see it in my own life. I can see what I have neglected over the years and what I nurtured. I can see what has thrived and what has suffered on the back burner.

I passed my thesis defense today.  So, as long as I can remember to finish my financial aid exit counseling in the next few weeks, I will earn my Masters of Fine Arts in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design. I almost didn’t make it this far—there were many times when I thought about quitting.

I don’t like putting things on the back burner. I like to know that I am taking care of everyone and everything—I like to know that I am fulfilling my obligations. I also like to know that I am doing a great job and putting all of my effort into everything I do.

It was hard to find the right balance between school and home life. There were times when I couldn’t be at home for my children when they got off the bus. There were times when babysitters had to take them to their activities and sign my name on homework sheets.

There were times when I had to prepare to go to court the same week I had a major paper due. Just last week I was faced with Veronica’s trip to the emergency room for a fractured arm, my parents’ home in North Carolina burned to the ground, and my ex-husband told me that he plans to file a contempt charge against me and hopefully get me arrested.  This all happens the same time I try to finish my thesis, study for a test in another class, and try to complete my freelance work for my new job.

Luckily there is always room on the back burner for stuff I don’t have time to deal with. But I can’t always be lucky enough to put bad things on the back burner.

Some days I put Robby on the back burner and some days it is the kids. Some days it is school and some days it is work. But most days it is me.

I’m not trying to garner sympathy for the last statement. I think it is just the nature of most mothers. We tend to put ourselves last. Most times we never even realize we do it—it just comes natural. Perhaps this is why I don’t take many opportunities to lie on the couch and watch television.

Going back to school to get my masters degree was a decision that I made mostly for myself. I wanted to be self-sufficient and be able to take care of the children on my own. I couldn’t find a job with my bachelors degree, so it just seemed like the obvious choice to make.

Two years didn’t seem like a long time when I started the program. What’s funny is that I didn’t even enroll as a graduate student in the beginning. My self-esteem was so low that I enrolled as an undergrad. I thought I would spend some time getting my feet wet—I didn’t think there was any way I could get accepted to a graduate program.

But that only lasted a quarter and I put in my packet and started graduate school. Several months after I started school, I went to court to get my divorce and I asked for 2 years of alimony. “All I need is enough financial support to get through the next few years,” I told the mediator. My ex-husband agreed to my demands and the race began.

But I hit some major snags along the way. The children got sick sometimes. They had activities that required my attendance. I had my divorced finalized. Veronica got hurt and broke her legs. My bank account ran on empty and I worried about finding a way to pay the bills and buy groceries.

Two separate times I gave in to the pressure. I got into bed and cried. I convinced myself that I would quit school and find a job and maybe finish my degree later. I was tired of putting the children on the back burner. I was tired of being broke. I was tired of doing homework. I just wanted to be a good mom and have a normal life.

The last time I tried to quit, Robby sat me down and said, “I cannot let you quit. You are too smart to not have your masters degree. If I can finish my masters degree, then you can.”

For some reason, his words really struck a chord with me. Those words echoed through my mind for the next 9 months and carried me through to the end.

I’m not sure what the rest of my life will be like. I know that I still need to find a job and continue putting people and events on the back burner. I know I can’t have it all, but I also know that I don’t want to have it all. I just want to have what I have right now—healthy, thriving children, a happy marriage, and the confidence to hold my head high and know that I did something that makes me proud.

I haven’t been really proud of myself in a very long time—I can’t even remember the last time I felt pride about myself. Sure, I’ve been proud of my children or material objects, but not of myself.

Maybe pride is what has been missing all these years? I’m not sure, but I feel complete now and I’m more than happy to put my insecurities on the back burner. Hopefully they will simmer for a long time.