Thursday, June 20, 2013

Laughter is the best medicine

I had actually written another blog yesterday about how it feels so weird to know I’ve been graduated from high school for 20 years. It was filled with sweet heartfelt stories about my former classmates and how we had this really great connection because they all knew the real me and where I came from…

I need to finish that one up because it had some good stuff in it, but I just don’t feel like I have the energy today to bring up serious emotions or reflect on the happy times of my youth.

Today was one of those days where life is almost so exhausting that I have to really push myself to take care of business. I took the day off work so my daughter could go ride horses—that was a high point of the day. I love to see my children truly happy and she is happiest when she is on a horse out in the county.

Then on the way home, reality began to sink in as I remembered why I took off the rest of the day—to take care of business.

I knew I had to call my attorney (again) and try to get a grip on a recent issue that has dinged my credit. After over an hour of phone calls, I realized it was going to be harder than I thought and this is going to take me weeks to file all the paperwork and make phone calls and once again fight to be treated with respect and dignity. *

The exhaustion that stress brings on began to settle on my body—I felt tired and my face felt old and wrinkled from scrunching up my face. I wanted to just go to bed and forget about everything I had to do to get this stuff resolved.

I also had to make more phone calls to push off my student loans a little longer and re-file paperwork so my children don’t lose their health insurance. I have more bills to pay and I don’t want to even start going through the stack of mail that continues to grow on the coffee table.

Then I started to think about how happy it made me yesterday to think about the funny stories I shared with my former classmates back in Dublin, Texas. Those memories make me laugh every time.

I think about all the crazy parties I used to throw when my parents would go out of town—which happened a lot. We floated kegs, invented some awesome drinking games, and laughed a lot—we actually laughed all the time.

One of the things that I love so much about Robby is that we laugh a lot. I forgot how much I missed 
laughing until I met him. We laughed so much on our second date that I wanted to just stay in the car and keeping driving around talking for a few more days.

I love to laugh like that. When I laugh like that, I forget about how crappy my day was or how tired I am from stress. I forget that there is unfinished business looming or that I don’t have any money.

I grew up very poor. Most of the people I went to school with in Dublin were also very poor. I don’t think any of us realized how poor we were—we didn’t care. It didn’t matter if you were poor and lived in Dublin because it was expected that you had to be poor or else you wouldn’t live there.  

It’s easy to not focus on the negative parts of life when you are surrounded by people who make you laugh—people who understand you and accept you just the way you are.

I was fortunate to have that experience in school—most people I know hated their classmates and vow to never go back to their hometown ever again. I used to hate Dublin and I hated going back there until a few years ago.

I finally realized that I couldn’t pretend to be someone else when I went back home—everyone knew where I came from and that I wasn’t any better than any of them. I couldn’t pretend that I was from somewhere else.

I wish I had the money to go back home and see my old friends for our class reunion. I’m sure we would laugh a lot. I’m sure I would forget about all the bad stuff for a few days and catch my breath. I would love for them to meet Robby and see my children.

I’m glad I have those memories. I’m glad I still have those friends. I’m glad I have new friends that make me laugh. I’m glad I can still laugh after everything I have been through these past years.

I guess I’ll know things are really bad if there ever comes a day when I cannot laugh. But for now, I’m going to wrap this up and wait for my husband to get home so I can tell him a funny story I’ve been saving up all day.

I’m sure he’ll have another one for me and we’ll laugh for a while and I’ll forget about the bad stuff and find the energy to keep moving forward and living my life the way I was meant to live.

*When you get a divorce, have a credit company run through your credit history and make sure you don’t have any joint accounts with your ex—there may be an old credit card on file that you haven’t used since 2001 and you forgot about. I called all the banks and asked them to check on my old joint accounts, but one of them told me the wrong information and now I’m totally screwed with an unpaid credit card bill that I had nothing to do with. A credit check would have solved that issue instantly. Don’t let yourself be too exhausted to take care of this before you sign your divorce papers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Come on, get happy

It’s been one of those weeks and it’s only Tuesday. I haven’t felt this drained in a very long time.

I’m exhausted by life. I don’t understand why some people have the right to affect so many people? But more importantly, I don’t understand why anyone should have to live with so much stress.

I want to honestly pour out my heart and tell every tidbit of what is going on with me right now, but I can’t. I can’t tell anyone about what it is like to have to deal with insanity on an almost daily basis.

The backlash of what I write is not worth the struggle. I don’t have the energy to fight any more and I have had to resolve myself to just sit back and wait this out…again.

I’m torn. Part of me hopes this new “partnership” is the beginning of something positive. Maybe things will be different this time. I always believe people can change and I also firmly believe everyone deserves the chance to change for the better.

Then there is the bigger part of me that believes this is just another phase in the long line of “second/third/fourth chances.” These chances seem to come and go and I feel as though I have no control over them.

Control is the key word here. I strive to have control in my life. The other day while I was putting together my son’s birthday party, my husband pointed out to me that I like to control everything.

He thought he was pointing out something new to me, but he wasn’t. I don’t deny my need to control everything. I also don’t make excuses for it. I’m not ashamed of it and I don’t try to hide it.

Yes, it’s true. I like to control everything.

I know it is very unhealthy and I have really tried to change. I look at where I am today and I know it is starting to really wear on me…again.

I feel like I’m doing better, but at the end of the day, I can feel the exhaustion set in and I realize that my need to control everything is wearing me down.

But how I am supposed to turn a blind eye to what could possibly turn into a dangerous situation? What did I ever do to deserve to be treated this way?

How hard is it to treat me like a “person?”… A person who would move heaven and Earth to make sure my children are happy, healthy, and safe.

You can write what you want about me. You can try to convince everyone that I am crazy. You can continue to constantly point out how I am dangerous and “out of control.”

Sure, I’m sure you have a handful of people who believe you. I’m sure there are people who would stand by you and condemn me.

It’s okay. I realize I have no control over that. I don’t want to control that. I want you to move forward and have a better life. I want you to do the things you say you are going to do. And if you feel that making me look bad is the only way to do that, then go ahead.

I honestly do want you to be happy. I truly do. You don’t have to believe that, but if you would, things would be better between us.

Everyone deserves to be happy. Everyone deserves to experience a happy life.
You’re not happy because you choose not to be. I can only imagine why. I have a pretty good idea though…

My control issues have gotten me into this mess. I know I tried to control the wrong people to make them happy. I wanted them to be happy because I thought it would make me happy. The funny thing is, I was never more miserable.

Well, look at me now. Am I happy?

Yes, I am. I’m happy because I know I cannot control anyone else’s feelings. I can only control my own.

I choose happiness. I wish you would, too.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

(another) New Chapter

I’m so glad I decided to go through with my graduation ceremony Saturday. It was great to see some of my old classmates and catch up on where everyone is heading and what’s going on with others in our little group.

Even though there were 1,700 former students in the graduation ceremony yesterday, only four of those were WRITers (that’s what we called ourselves in the writing dept.) I was one of those four and two others didn’t participate in the ceremony.

I was a little embarrassed to go back and face them and admit how hard it has been to find a job. One of my friends said, “I heard you are an editor now at the newspaper—that’s so awesome.”

I had to inform her that it was only temporary and they had just hired someone permanently for the job—and guess what—it wasn’t me.

Everyone’s faces got serious. We are all in the same boat—big, expensive degrees with no full-time, permanent writing jobs.

I’m not sure why, but it seems that I tend to get to be the guinea pig of life for my friends. I was able to catch them up on the freelance community in Savannah and point them in the right direction for part-time work.

With the bad news behind us, we got to move on to the good stuff in our lives. We made it through graduate school.

I thought I was the only one who struggled. We compared notes on the number of times we got into bed and cried and wanted to quit. We laughed about papers we hated to write and how that weird guy with the bushy hair who looks like he’s always wearing pajamas keeps his job as an Art History professor.
I even got a little award...not too shabby

And when the ceremony started and the music played, we leaned in close to each other and teared up. For the first time in a long time, I felt really proud of myself.

I felt like I finally achieved something really great…actually I know I achieved something really great. I started something and I followed through with it. That’s not very easy to do these days.

It’s funny because with each new task and struggle, I realize how much I learned from my mother. Nothing was ever good enough for her—and I don’t mean that in a bad way.
She is always satisfied with the simple things in life, but she is always looking for a way to make a little more money or to turn an old piece of furniture into something really special.

When we were kids, she would make popcorn every Friday night and we would watch television. It was never simple popcorn—she would go around her humble kitchen and put together a mixture of whatever she thought would taste good. And it always did taste good—it was also a taste that could never be replicated by someone else.

When I got married the first time around, Mom wore a red, Asian-themed dress to my wedding. We lovingly called it her “Chinese hooker dress.” While my grandmother didn’t approve, I loved it. Everyone who knows me well, knows my favorite color is red and I was happy Mom honored that.

After a few years, she recycled the hooker dress into a chair cover for an old padded rocker she found at the flea market. It made for a beautiful chair and a keepsake for a special day.

I know there is something really amazing about the ability to take the old and unwanted and turn it into something beautiful and unique—something no one else can fully replicate.

Life gave me a crappy divorce and left me at rock bottom with two children to care for and no job or healthcare. Somehow I have managed to turn that unwanted, ugly thing into something beautiful and unique—something no one else can ever replicate.

It doesn’t mean that my degree is better than everyone else’s because I feel I had to sacrifice so much to get to that graduation—there is no telling what other stories filled that giant civic center.

But, somehow I made it look easy. I found a way to make it work, and I found a way to make it my own.
I’m glad my mother taught me to be humble and to live simply. She taught me to find happiness in myself and my family. She taught me to take charge of my life and make things better even when the bank account is on empty and no one else knows how to help.

She also taught me to take a moment and enjoy what I made--and I plan to.

I have this renewed since of pride that I should have had when I finished classes in November. I realize now how important this degree is and how hard I worked for it.

I’m not desperate to find “just any” job now. To be honest, I decided to turn down any future job offers that aren’t worth of my talents and education because at the end of the day, I know I am worth more than an hourly wage desk job.

And, if no one wants to hire me, then that’s okay. I will just take another page from my mother’s untitled book and open my own business and create my own job—a job that no one else can ever replicate.