Thursday, December 4, 2014

Picking up the pieces

After what happened yesterday, I’m surprised to find myself sitting at my computer typing a blog entry.
My blog, yes my terrible blog. The one that is the center of attention for one lonely audience.
I don’t get it. I always believed that the truth will set you free and that if you do something for the right reason, only good will prevail.
I really don’t know what I believe anymore. I really don’t know what to think about this world and the people living in it.
I guess so many people have turned apathetic because of the bad apples. You know, the people who ruin it for the rest of us.
The people who really don’t care about anyone but themselves. The people who would rather get their way than listen to reason.
I keep trying to wrap my brain around why anyone would ignore the truth. 
Someone once told me, “You can’t hide from God.”
The statement resonates in my mind a lot these days. It doesn't matter what you say or how you try to take the spotlight off yourself by pointing fingers and putting the blame on everyone else, because in the end, you can’t hide from God.
I’m glad to know that no matter what happens or how twisted things get, in the end, I won’t have to hide from God or anyone else. I won’t have to explain why I made the choices I made, because I made them for the right reason and I made them in an attempt to protect the innocent people in my life who depend on me to protect them.
I do need someone out there to help and listen and hopefully that person will come into my life and help.  But at this point, I’m not going to hold my breath.
I guess in the end, I can just take comfort in the fact that when my time comes, I won’t want to hide. I can hold my head high knowing that I have done my best and made the best decisions based on trying to do what is right.
I still believe the truth will set you free even if lying gets people what they want. All I can do is be honest. I don’t know how not to be honest.
I’m hurt today and my heart is very heavy, but I have to believe that the truth will be seen and heard, and more importantly, the right person will step in and get us off the constant loop of ups and downs.

All I want is peace and peace for my family and the ability to protect them. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Everyone else wants me to be happy

I really should be doing something else besides writing this morning. I have stacks of laundry to put away, I’m going out of town and need to pack, and my house is crazy.

But it’s been one of those weeks of so many ups and a few really low downs, that I know I need to sit and write out some of these feelings.

Highs: Luke made it to the top 12 of The Voice. It’s so surreal hearing his name on TV and seeing him perform.

But it’s also not that crazy either. People keep asking me, “What’s it like to see your brother all famous now?”

To be honest, it’s really not that different except that now I have this peace in my heart when I think about him. I don’t worry about him like I used to when I knew he was struggling to make his career work. He’s worked really hard to get to this spot, so it’s a peaceful joy, not a “how did this happen?”

And I guess celebrity doesn’t affect me like it does some other people—of course I have never met Dave Grohl so there is no definitive proof that I won’t go all fan girl on a celebrity.

I interviewed Luke yesterday for a story I’m doing for the newspaper and he said something that I think sums it all up—the most important thing in life is to be a good human.

That’s my parents’ phrase and it was drilled into us growing up. They would both say, “Nothing is more important than being a good human and raising good children.”

Sure they are proud of our accomplishments, but none of that would matter if we were jerks or miserable.

And I believe that. Just be a good human and if you have children, raise them to be good humans,  everything else is just cake.
Other highs: The job has been fun this week, hanging out with celebrity chefs in swanky hotels and cooking classes and I had some fun interviews about some of my favorite events going on in Savannah.
And Savannah is so beautiful this time of year—nothing beats walking around downtown in the middle of the day in the fall. It’s just so beautiful here.

Another high: Took my daughter to high school night at her school. Yes, my baby is going to high school
next year.

The way schools in Savannah work is so much different than what I grew up with. There are several good high schools in town and they all have different specialty programs like culinary arts, cosmetology, pre-med, engineering, advanced biology, marketing and business.

So the high schools set up shop in the school gym and we went to each booth to hear their pitch and figure out where she wants to apply.

My kids already go to the performing and visual arts school so we’re used to the audition process for school, but this opportunity gives Roni a chance to look at doing something different.

After three years of art, she’s ready to try something new and hopefully she go on to the performing and visual arts high school but she wants to do something different.

I was so proud of her, watching how grown up she has become—she was asking questions and really engaging the school rep. It was like watching a much younger version of me, except way better.

I don’t worry about her like I used to—she’s so much smarter and talented than I was at her age and she’s got stuff figured out. She already has her 10 year plan and it actually sounds like a good one.

Now on to the lows—Ugh! It seems like I just can’t win sometimes!

Things have been so peaceful at home lately that I forgot what it was like to have my cage rattled and so when it got rattled this week it hit me hard.

I guess it hit me harder than usual because I’m so freaking tired of this. I can’t even describe how tired I am. I’m exhausted physically and emotionally.

I’m so tired of dealing with someone else’s stupid mess. I’m so tired of it affecting my family and my life. I’m tired of shelling out so much money every time stupid pops its head up.

I still can’t go into detail about what’s going on with all this mess, but I hope it will end. But it’s not going to end any time soon, I know that.

So, after I got the news that we have to go back to court, I was wiped out and I had to leave the office for a bit to get some fresh air and to take care of some other business.

I sat down in a lady’s cubicle while she made copies for me. She had a cute work space with photos of her grandchildren and her awards and certificates.

Then I spotted a piece of paper hanging behind her computer screen—I assume it’s a mantra she reads during the day to keep her upbeat.

The words printed were a collection of simple phrases:
“There is a God.”
“He controls the world.”
“He created me.”
“He is a loving God.”
“He wants me to be happy.”

I read the mantra over and over until I had it memorized. Each time I repeated the phrase in my head, tears welled up.

Sometimes I forget, despite the actions of one person who was some control in my life, there are so many others out there who love me and want me to be happy.

And most importantly, I know God wants me to be happy. This crap I’ve had to deal with for the past 5 years isn’t a punishment to me, my kids and my family.

It’s some sort of crazy life lesson that is supposed to in some roundabout way lead me to happiness—real happiness.

That is the point of life, right? To find that peace, find that inner happiness, be a good human.

These things that rattle my cage may always be in my life. I have to accept that. Hoping that this whole thing will just go away may never happen. I have to accept that.

I have to remember that we all want to be happy, but even more important is the realization that our parents, our children, our spouses, our siblings, our friends and our creator want us to be happy.

That’s part of what is means to be a good human—you have to find that inner happiness in spite of the crap that is thrown at you. You have to be happy for yourself—it’s contagious. It trickles down to your children, your spouse, your friends and anyone else you come in contact with.

Walking out of that office I realized I owe it to the world to be happy. I owe it my children. I owe it to my husband. I owe to my parents and my siblings. I owe it to God. And most importantly, I owe it to myself. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Just breathe

I’m so glad it’s Friday. Even better, it’s payday, and I get to just have a moment to sit and think in silence.

The mornings are crazy around here. Our schedules this year are different than in the past. The past two years, Robby left almost an hour before the kids had to go to school, so I would get up early with him and we’d have about 30 minutes of quiet time where we’d get to sit together at the dining room table and just drink coffee and talk.

It was a great time to talk about stuff and get perspective—and to reconnect.

We don’t have that anymore.

The kids have to leave at the same time as Robby so now it’s this crazy whirlwind of trying to get the kids fed and get their lunches packed.

If Robby is lucky, he can wedge his hand into a small space and grab a cup of coffee. I don’t even think he drinks coffee at home any more—I’m not even sure, I just know that I am left with almost a full pot of coffee after the whirlwind exits the house.

There really isn’t anything better than that moment when the bus pulls away and both kids are safely tucked inside with all their bags and clothes on and lunch boxes packed. It’s like I crossed the finish line of a marathon and everyone is happy and cheering.

I don’t think there is a more quiet moment than when the bus pulls away and I walk into the kitchen and pour myself a cup of coffee and sit at the computer to catch up on work emails and personal stuff.
It’s weird when I look back on all the years I spent at home with the kids—day in day out, rarely a break let alone quiet moments.

But I loved being at home with them. It was like I couldn’t get enough of it—well sometimes. I still feel the same way—on those lazy weekends when we get to be together, there is nothing better than just sitting on the couch, snuggled up in blankets and watching mindless movies.

It’s weird to be one of those working moms now. Even after several years, I still have a hard time adjusting to new schedules and routines and balancing work and finding time to make sure everyone has what they need.

I think the hardest part is making time for me. I’m not talking about spa days or trips out of town with girlfriends. I can’t afford that crap any way.

I’m talking about sitting down and forcing myself to process my feelings. Especially lately. So much has happened to us in such a short amount of time--but if I stop to reflect, I can see that things have been stressful for a long, long time.

I don’t know what it does to a body to constantly take on stress and not take the time to process it.

I know that before the kids got out for summer break last school year, I was under so much stress worrying about the kids that my neck locked up and I could barely move my head from side to side. I remember driving Jude to karate that day and tears coming down my face every time I had to look over my shoulder to see if oncoming traffic was coming. When Robby met me there he said I looked horrible—he almost didn’t recognize me.

I knew I didn’t feel well, but I hadn’t taken the time to really let it sink in that I was making myself sick with worry and stress.  I thought I had it all under control.

Something had to change. Something, but what?

What could I change? I had no control over so many things in my life.

I finally realized I had to do something that I rarely did. I decided to take care of myself the same way I take care of everyone else. I think as Moms (and Dads) we tend to not do that enough, or at all.

I went to the doctor and got a checkup.  To my surprise, I was completely healthy—blood work was perfect and on the outside I seemed better than most. I took a moment to thank God for my health—what would my kids do if I got really sick? What would Robby do?

The doctor tried to get me to take pain meds for my neck, but that’s a no go—I don’t like meds and I can’t afford to be comatose at night with two children and a husband on dialysis. Plus, pain meds don’t heal—they only mask what is really going on.

I started seeing a homeopathic chiropractor and his diagnosis was simple—“You are under so much constant stress and you are so tight and stiff, your neck has lost its natural curve.”

Despite being broke, I was able to push some money aside and my mom chipped in and I was able to start treatment with him and he fixed my neck.

But doing something for me was also healing in a way. 

But I also had to change what I was doing.

Unfortunately, I think most of us tend to not continue to take care of ourselves properly when we aren’t in pain.

My neck is hurting again. I can’t think of the last time I sat and tried to process everything that is going on with us right now. I can’t think of the last time I sat and had coffee with my husband and talked about our day.

I know we are no different than most busy families. Life has ups and downs and I’m hoping things will slow down eventually and we can all catch a breath.  

But ignoring your feelings and not taking time to process your feelings and reflect on your life and your health is just another way of masking your symptoms, not much different than taking those pain meds.

Sometimes we need the pain meds—sometimes we truly have heath issues or injuries and we need the meds so we can be and feel better. Sometimes we aren’t ready to face the pain.

But sometimes, those pain meds become a crutch. They become a way to cope.

I think I do the “not processing” thing or the “I’m not talking about my problems right now” thing because I’m not ready to feel the pain, the heartbreak. I’m not ready to cry because I worry I’ll never stop.

I’m so mad right now. I’m so sad right now. But I’m also so thankful for so many great things in my life.
I think at the end of the day, I’m just tired of having to adjust constantly and I’m tired of things being so far out of my control that I can’t even get a grasp on the stress sometimes.

But it makes me realize, I still have something to learn in this life or else the same thing wouldn’t keep happening—this person who causes so much pain and sadness would not still be in my life causing problems if God didn’t have more lessons for me to learn.

I know I have to get better at taking care of myself. I know I have to find a way to quit trying to make everything perfect. I know that raising good children is more important than trying to give them everything they want. I know that I have to stop and have coffee with my husband more. I know I have to finish what I have started and see where this next step takes our family.

And I also know that if things don’t work out the way I thought they would or the way they should, I have to accept that and move on. But most importantly, I have to stop and take time to process the disappointment and to reflect on the joys.

Or else, I’m going to make myself so sick I won’t get the chance to bounce back for whatever new obstacle pops into our lives.

So, this weekend, I’m going to ignore the typical house chores I run around trying to get done and decompress and reflect. I’m going to just let things go. I’m going find a way to find peace in my life despite the outside influences.

I guess that is what I have to learn—I have to find a way to feel at peace and maintain that peace in spite of life’s constant battles. That’s a tough order, but I know I can do this. Ignoring it is not working.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

It really is that bad

I was listening to a program this week on the radio where they were discussing the Ray Rice incident—you know the one where he beat his fiancĂ©/now wife. They had people call in and talk about being an in abusive relationship.
Now, I’ve never been in a physically abusive relationship and I would never tell a man or woman who was physically abused that I know how they feel, but I was definitely a victim of verbal and psychological abuse in my first marriage.
What do I mean by verbal and psychological abuse?
I feel that kind of abuse happens when a person yells at you and says things in a calculated manner for the sole purpose of making you his personal doormat. He also breaks things (always your things) and punches holes in walls. He may even hit the wall behind your head or something nearby you in order to scare you and intimidate you.
It changes the way you think about yourself, friends and family members. It turns you from a self-assured free spirit to a closed-off hermit who constantly has that voice whisper in your, “God, you’re so stupid! Why did you say that? Why did you think that? What is wrong with you?”
A counselor called in to the radio show and she talked about what goes on psychologically with abused people and why they have such a hard time walking away from such a toxic situation.
One thing she mentioned really hit a chord with me and has opened my eyes to something I never really understood—it’s a little embarrassing to admit that I didn’t see this as such a big deal before because it’s kind of a “duh” thing.

But to me, it’s been very eye-opening these past few days and has given me something else to heal inside myself.
The counselor said that the abuser will try to minimize everything to make you believe that you are exaggerating. For example, he will say it’s “not a big deal” or “you’re making a big deal out of nothing,” “ Is it really worth all the drama for this?” or my favorite, “Everyone is going to think you’re crazy if you make a big deal out of this.”
I’ve been faced with another hurdle this past week that is forcing me to look through old emails and old court reports, and I keep seeing the same word repeated over and over—exaggerated.
One report reads: “He says his ex-wife tends to exaggerate situations.”
Another: “He said her claims are exaggerated.”
Email after email reads, “This is just another one of your exaggerated claims.” And “As usual, Kim, you are exaggerating.”
There was a time when I believed I was exaggerating. And why not? He knew how to convince me I exaggerate. He’s calculating in his mind games.
My mom is the self-proclaimed exaggerating daughter of an Scotch-Irish man who was known for weaving the most incredibly exaggerated stories that would blow your mind.
“We’re Irish, that’s what we do,” mom would say when she would get caught in one of her wild tales.
So, I believed I was my mother’s daughter and I didn’t know how to not tell a story full of exaggerations.
Usually I would convince myself that whatever he had done wasn’t really that bad and I could just suck it up and keep it to myself—that was the beginning of closing myself off to people, to my family, to my friends.
That’s how it starts. That’s how you end up alone and staying with someone who is abusive while the rest of the world looks on and asks, “Why didn’t you just leave?”
What I didn’t realize was that there was a big difference between exaggerated storytelling and explaining why I'm upset about something.
And, there is a big difference between an innocent Irished-up story and wanting to be upset because someone smashed his beer stein through the glass top table I got from my dead grandmother. But he was able to fix that by telling me that if I would have just kept my fucking mouth shut, he wouldn’t have had to do that.
Ever hear the words, “You know I get mad when you question me, so why do you do it? It makes me break things and get really angry?”
If you hear it enough, you get to where you learn to keep your mouth shut. You learn to remember you are exaggerating and things really aren’t as bad as you think.
You learn not to talk to anyone because they just don’t understand. They will tell you to be mad, to pack your bags. In your mind, they just don’t get it.  
The funny thing is, I don’t exaggerate. In a lot of circumstances, I tend to underplay events because I’m used to being questioned about my facts—I’m used to the reply, “You’re exaggerating again.”
So what if you exaggerate when you say you’ve been to Walmart a million times this month? That is not the same as saying, “You shouldn’t have taken my new radio my parents gave me and threw it across the room when I got mad at you for spending money we didn’t have.”
So, if you are one of those people sitting around this past week wondering why in hell Ray Rice’s wife doesn’t leave, then realize this man has used his bag of tricks to make her think she caused his anger or that she deserved to be smacked around in an elevator.
He probably told her that it wasn’t that bad or “people love me and they will think you are crazy if you say bad things about me.” Who knows?
But if you are one of those people who has survived an abusive relationship or is in one now, remember  you’re not exaggerating—it really is that bad.
Once you accept that “it really is that bad,” you will be able to start seeing your abuser for who he is and for the first time in a long time you will be able to see yourself for who you really are, a victim.

And guess what else? You have every reason in the world to be mad as hell at that person.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The road to Texas is paved with beer, bbq and gas station burritos

I didn’t sleep well last night and I’m up way too early, so I thought I should do something more productive than reading random posts on Facebook and write a blog post.

They tried to act like they wouldn't
 miss each other at camp drop off
My little girl is finally on her way home and she’s flying for the first time—yes, flying on a plane, 30,000 feet in the air-- without her Mama. She’s 13, so I guess it’s time to let her spread her wings a little more but I’ll be glad when she’s on the ground and back in our home.

It’s been a crazy summer this year, full of the usual drama and even fuller of new experiences that make me rethink almost everything I thought was true about myself.

Some good, some bad, but all those experience have made us all grow as a family, in a good way.

Being away from the children for almost four weeks was almost too much for me to handle as a mother.   It was hard hearing those little voices on the other side of the phone and hearing the words, “I miss you” and “I want to come home” and having to just say “I love you” and not jump in the car to go see them.

There were times when I didn’t think I would ever catch my breath or stop feeling so sad. But they are back with me now and I guess we all have grown in our ways from that experience.

Once the kids got home, we all packed up and drove to Texas—and yes “all” includes my dear hubby who is happy to stay parked in Savannah.

Robby has never been to Texas with me before and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen when I gave him front row tickets to a part of my life that he has never seen.  But in true Robby fashion, he embraced the adventure and kept me laughing the entire trip.

Had to introduce Robby to Tractor Supply.
Something happens to me every time I get to Texas. No matter how long I’ve been gone, I seem to slide into this rhythm and relax a little. I get to really relax—my mom does all the shopping, cooking and cleaning and my dad takes the children and keeps them occupied with some of the weirdest babysitting techniques known to man.

My brothers make their way down to Dublin and it’s just like old times. We’re laughing, drinking beer, eating around the table, and telling stories that make my side hurt from laughing.  My kids idolize all of my siblings and can’t get enough of stories from our childhood.

Even though Texas holds some not so good memories, it also holds some of the best memories of my life. 

There are times when I think about moving back—what it would be like to be around my friends and my family instead of the new friends and family I’ve made here in Georgia.

If I’ve learned anything these past years, it’s that I know better than to say “it’s never gonna happen.”

The reason for the trip to Texas was to get Veronica a checkup at the hospital in Dallas with her foot surgeon. When you have something as rare as Arthrogryposis, you find things go better when you have a special doctor for each part of your body affected by the disease.

So, she has a knee guy, a shoe guy and a hand/arm guy. Unfortunately, two of those guys are in Dallas, but it’s worth the trip to get the job fixed right the first time.

Then after four fun filled days in my hometown of Dublin, we returned to the hospital and  dropped off my princess so she could ride a bus to go to summer camp with her other Arthrogryposis buddies at Camp Freedom in the Texas Hill Country for the week.
Love Uncle David and Uncle Luke

She has gone to that camp since she was 6 and she knew almost every kid going—I can’t wait to hear all her stories when she gets back.

And since she’s set for another foot surgery this fall, I have a feeling some of those friendly faces with show up at the hospital to see how she’s doing.

Life is weird. You never know who is going to walk into your life one day and become one of those people that you can’t believe you never met.

I look back one these past several years and wonder how I got to where I am today. I never would have thought I would have the job I have—I said I would never work at a newspaper again.

I never thought I would stay here in Savannah for so long or bring Robby home to Dublin for a visit—I said I would never get married again.

I never thought I would be sitting at home waiting for my little girl to get off a plane by herself and walk herself and her bags to her gate on her own—the doctors told me she would never walk on her own when she was a baby.

My "little" brother Luke
I guess the point is that we never know what tomorrow will bring. It’s easy to say “that will never be me.” But we all learn that it can so easily be you in the blink of an eye.

It takes mere seconds to meet someone that will change your life. It takes just a few more to make friendships and memories to last a lifetime.

But it also takes a lot of work and patience to make those relationships really good and even more to make them last.

I guess the big thing I’ve learned this summer, is that healthy relationships are worth the time and effort in the long run. Everyone gets busy and tired, but some people are still really good at making sure they stay in touch and take the time to make relationships work.

I realized I need to work harder on maintaining my old relationships in Texas. I’ve avoided them because I get so homesick sometimes and I don’t want to admit I miss a crappy little place in the middle of nowhere that serves the best damn gas station burritos in the world.

I realize I’ve been stuck in between Texas and Georgia for a while now—both pulling me in different directions. I’ll never leave Savannah; I’ll never move back to Texas. Why say never? Why not find something in between? Why not make more of an effort to have both?

It’s easier to watch life pass by on Facebook than to make the effort to get up, get out and embrace the people and places that make you happy. It’s hard to get passed the hurt and let people love you and take care of you—it’s hard but it’s not impossible.

Starting over doesn’t mean I have to close the door on the past. Starting over means I get to pick and choose who I want to come along on my second chance at happiness. It means I get decide and I get erase the dreaded “never” with “maybe” or “yes!”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Who wants a boring life?

Okay, so I only have five more days to go until I get my children back home with me. It's like I have a clock in  my head and I can hear the click, click, click of the seconds slowly passing by.

I got to have them for two nights for the 4th of July. I just couldn’t soak enough in. Dropping them back off at their dad’s was harder than I thought it would be and I didn't think I would ever be able to catch my breath again.
It’s been a series of trying to keep busy long enough to take my mind off things so I can breathe for a minute without feeling like I’m going to start crying again. Just breathing is hard sometimes. It's like a huge piece of me is missing and I feel panicked. 

It’s not that I just miss them—there is a lot of other emotions and thoughts going through my head that make me worry.

But, during my time with children on July 4th we had some awesome moments when I got the confirmation I needed to know that my children are going to be okay.

Jude took charge of setting up the canopy Robby bought. He helped carry heavy bags from the car without complaining too much and he gave me enough hugs to last a week. 

Veronica told me something I didn’t know could come from a teen girl’s mouth—she’s happy with herself just the way she is. She is planning to go to camp in a few weeks—it’s a camp just for children with Arthrogryposis, which is what she has.

She loves that camp because she gets to be herself while she is there. No one asks why she wears leg braces or what happened to her. They are just kids for a week getting to have a normal camp experience.

At the end of camp, there is a ceremony where the campers write their name on the camp sign and they get to make a little speech if they want. Veronica told me she already had her speech ready and she wanted me to hear it. So, while I carried her on my back to take her back to the car after fireworks, she recited her planned speech in my ear.

“People always say I have a good attitude and they don’t understand why I’m not mad about my legs, but I’m happy with being different. I like being different. I don’t want to be any other way.”

I was stunned. Most people go their entire life and never have that sense of clarity about their self-image, self-worth or self-esteem. But at 13 years old, she gets it.

It seems simple when she says it—“I’m glad I’m different. I don’t want to be like everyone else because that would be boring.”

Yes, it would be boring and sometimes I have to remind myself that while I may think I would like to have a boring life without all the drama, I know that a life worth living has to have the lows so you can truly cherish the highs.
This isn’t so much a low point for me right now—it’s just a place I had to be in order to truly treasure those little moments and hear what is going on around me. 

While it may sound creepy, I watched my children sleep the morning before I to dropped them off again. I watched their chests rise and lower with each breath and I felt comfort in their peaceful faces. I haven't had a moment like that in a long time--a moment where everything just stopped and got quiet and I took in the reality of the miracle of their lives and mine. 

And yes, I’m really mad and sad sometimes, but I  thank God for giving me those little moments of clarity to see what truly matters and to never take this crazy life  for granted. Because crazy can be good--it's not boring, and as my daughter says, who wants to be boring like everyone else?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Examining my point of view

In my last blog I wrote about the tricky topic of forgiveness. It’s funny how everyone looks at forgiveness differently.

Someone commented to me that they find others aren’t as quick to give them forgiveness. Someone else told me that they don’t feel the need to forgive someone they have no use for any more.

I made the comment that just because I forgive someone it doesn’t mean I want to have a relationship with them.

I think it shows we all have different ideas about forgiveness and what we expect from other people. Point of view seems to add to the trickiness of forgiveness.

Some people don’t feel like people forgive them, but maybe people are just tired of their crap and even if they do forgive, they don’t want to be subject to any more abuse?

Some people refuse to give forgiveness because they feel it make them look weak, but others could care less because they don’t want to have a relationship with the person anyway.

Who knows?

I’ve been reading an old journal I kept when I first started the divorce process with the ex from August 2009.

I wrote about how I was dumbfounded that he would call me on the phone, angry with me that I was filing for divorce. He said things like “I don’t deserve this” and tried to convince me I was overreacting—“You don’t have to do this,” he said
He continued to bring up a topic he brought up a lot with me—I never forgive him, I hold on to anger and never let things go.

That was his point of view and there was just enough truth in that statement to make second guess myself.

Technically speaking, I didn’t HAVE to follow through on the divorce. I didn’t HAVE to walk away from a 17-year relationship.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I didn’t follow through. There were plenty of times I second guessed myself and I got weak. 
There were many times when just filling out the paperwork in the attorney’s office was too much to complete.

When it came down to it, we were just two different points of view. He was of the mindset that things would be okay and that it was a waste of time to get a divorce. He was of the mindset that I should just forgive him and that everything would work itself out.

I was of the mindset that I could not waste another second of my life with a man who was fake—a man who only cared about his own wants and needs, a man who acted pious but was living a secret life and deceiving the woman who trusted him more than anyone else in the world, a man who was hurting his children by making their mommy a very sad person, a man who was hurting people who cared about our little family and hated seeing us miserable.

Sure, he said he was sorry. I have forgiven him.

But that doesn’t mean I want to be friends. It doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to be mad sometimes.

It also means my tolerance for other people’s shenanigans and drama is very limited. Life is too short to put up with other people’s problems—especially when they live with the point of view that they are not the ones with the problem.

When I decided to go through with the divorce, my former brother-in-law called me to see if I would change my mind. He desperately wanted to help us reconcile. I appreciated his effort.

I explained that I had spent six months working on things and saw that the ex was never going to change his behavior. Not only was he not going to change, but he acted like everything was my fault.
I told him that I finally realized that God did not create me and give me life so I could live like that. Not only did I not deserve to live that way, but no one deserves to live that way.

No one deserves to be miserable.
But it’s not up to other people to make you happy either. You have to find it and sometimes it’s really hard.

Sometimes it means you have walk away from toxic relationships. Sometimes it means you have to look in the mirror and change your point of view. Sometimes it means you have to accept that you are the asshole in a relationship and sometimes it means you have to be the asshole and end an abusive relationship.

I think one of the hardest parts of walking away from my former life was accepting the fact that once I walked away, there was no turning back. That old life would be gone. And even more frightening was the fact that I would have no one else to blame for anther failed shot at life except for myself.

But nothing in life that is worth having and fighting for is easy. It’s really hard.
Not knowing if I would have to live the rest of my life alone was hard. Being away from my children these past weeks has been hard. Starting over financially was hard. Trying to restart my career at 39 is hard.

It’s humbling, it’s frustrating, it’s exhausting…

But walking away and cutting those ties is also exciting because you get the chance to do things again—do them better, make things better, make life better, make yourself better, make relationships better.

And no matter what your point of view is, when life is better, you know you are doing what is right and living life the way God meant for you to live it.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

God, grant me the serenity ...

I’ve made it through the first week of the children being away at their father’s house—well, almost, 6 p.m. is technically one week.

I’ve never been away from them this long. They’ve never been away from me this long.

It’s tough. I wake up every morning, realize they are still gone and wonder if they are okay.

There were times when I was kid and my parents went out of town and left us with people. Sometimes it was strangers and most times it was my grandparents who lived in Seguin.

For the most part, we liked going to the house in Seguin. It was a huge home out in the country that had a trampoline (luckily we remembered where the holes were and where to jump) and sometimes it had a pool. But it always had lots of space to explore and it was always an adventure.

After a while, it was obvious my grandparents were tired of us and were irritated with my parents for not coming sooner to retrieve us.

But we were children and that also meant that our feelings were less important than adults—at least that was the way I grew up.

Instead of staying in the large house, we stayed in the “guest house.”

The guest house was really a small one-room trailer that didn’t have air conditioning for the first few years. Did I mention how hot south Texas gets in the summer?

It was also infested with mice, roaches and scorpions that would run across our legs at night time and wake us up.

But we had each other. I’m not sure what life would have been like if it had not been for my sister Amy and my brother David. Luke came around later and wasn’t subject to those “vacations” at people’s homes—mostly because we were able to stay home alone and could watch Luke while my parents were out of town.

It makes me feel comfort to know my children at least have each other while they are gone, but still it’s tough. It still sucks to be homesick.

Someone mentioned that I should have mentioned “forgiveness” in my last blog when I wrote about the unfairness of share custody.

It’s true on some levels, but for me forgiveness has been a tricky topic.

I think we are all programed to believe that we have to forgive people who have wronged us in order to move on and have healthy lives.

I know I believed that if I could just forgive my ex then everything would fall into place for me and we could all live happily ever after.

That is partly true.

You can forgive someone for something really bad and move on. I did.

I have forgiven my ex for causing us to have a divorce. I’m grateful every day that I was given the chance to get out of that doomed marriage and have the chance to have a normal and healthy marriage. It’s obvious now that he and I weren’t meant to be together forever, so I can easily forgive him for that.

I’m glad that the divorce led me to counseling where I had the chance to dig deep into my childhood and open my eyes to the fact that I had some serious issues that I needed to deal with in order to have normal, healthy relationships.

But forgiveness is something you have to do over and over again when you have to constantly deal with someone who is destructive, deceptive and hard to get along with.

It’s hard for me to constantly forgive over and over again, especially when I see my children sad.

My parents are reflective and humble enough to admit that leaving us with strangers and with grandparents who were not the best caregivers in the world was a mistake. They have apologized.
I forgive them.

It’s easy to forgive something like that—especially when the apology is sincere.

But if my parents continued to be destructive to me and my children, then that would bring in another level of me being angry with them. It would take me back to the times in my childhood when I needed them to protect us and they didn’t.

See, it’s hard to be truly forgiving and all “light” and “love” when someone says “sorry” out of one side of his mouth and then does the same old shit again and again.

So, yes, forgiveness is very important, but sometimes it comes down to finding forgiveness for yourself rather than others and sometimes we fail to see the difference or understand why we need to forgive ourselves.

I’m working to forgive myself for putting my children in this situation. Some days are easier than others.  It’s hard not to feel constant guilt when you are a parent—that’s how good parents are wired.

But guilt is a dangerous feeling that can force you to do things that are not healthy or make you feel so bad about yourself, you find yourself in a deep depression.

So, enough with the guilt already.  I’ll work on the forgiveness.  

And for the next week, I’m going to continue to stay as busy as possible and pray everything works out the way it was meant to be.

And when things get tough, I will continue to tell myself a simple prayer that has gotten me through a lot of the guilt that comes with divorce/co-parenting:
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Time limit on sadness

Yesterday was my son’s birthday. Hard to believe he’s 10 years old.

I love my children’s birthdays. I always crawl in bed with them on the morning of their birthday so I can make sure I’m the first person to tell them Happy Birthday. I hold them and tell them the story about the day they were born.

Even my usually cranky teenager still looks forward to our morning snuggle and hearing about how my doctor was dressed as Santa for the hospital Christmas party and freaked me out when he came into my room to check on me the day after she was born.

Then I let them eat birthday cake for breakfast, or if they want, I make them pancakes with whipped cream. They get hot chocolate or a milkshake.

But I didn’t get to do that with Jude yesterday. I didn’t get to have my son in my home on his birthday. He was with the ex.

It was hard getting out of the bed yesterday morning, but I forced myself up and took a deep breath. I went running and got ready for work. I tried to stay as busy as possible at work and stay positive. I got through the day with only crying a little bit twice and I worked so quickly, I was completely done with all my work by 2:00.

As soon as the clock hit 3:20, I ran to my car so I could get to see my children from 4-6.
Why 4-6? Because that’s what the court says I can do. If the kids are with the ex on their birthday, I get to see my children from 4-6. Two hours.

Two freaking hours. Two stupid hours! AHHH!

I’ve ranted before that it makes me angry that the court can dictate when I get to see my children in this stupid shared custody arrangement. Why does it make me angry? Because I can’t believe I live in a world where a stranger can make decisions for the children I gave birth to.

And why does a stranger get to make these decisions for me? Because I made a mistake.

I made a big mistake. I trusted someone who lied to me and now I have a stupid shared custody agreement that made me go without my children on Thanksgiving, Christmas morning, and now my son’s birthday.

But I’m not the only person in the world who has to deal with this crap so I’m not going to go on and on about it. It’s not healthy to focus on the bad all the time.

Moving on means you have to change your way of thinking. I’ve been focused on that a lot lately. Of course moving on means you still get to cry sometimes and you still get angry—but you have to set a time limit for being angry and force yourself to find that happy place.

I had to change the way I was doing things. Fighting against the system and obsessing about it was literally killing me.

In the end, I know I will always have something special with my children that other people will never get to have and we’ll make it through this.

I mentioned in my last blog that I had to go back to counseling for a few sessions to get my feet grounded again. It didn’t take much “talking” to realize I had to change the way I was thinking because what I was doing was not working for me.

When I have a negative thought, I have to replace it with something positive. So when I wake up sad because I don’t have my little guy to snuggle with, I have to throw on the running shoes, find a playlist that reminds me of a time that was really happy for me and  turn it up and focus on what I can do for the day to make me happier.

When I’m tired of a quiet house, I have to get out and do something fun. I’m starting my Christmas shopping. I’m putting together scrapbooks I’ve wanted to do for years but never got around to doing.

I’m making plans with my husband to do things we can’t do with the children or to go places we’ve always wanted to go. I’m writing projects that I’ve been putting off. I even have a trip to Texas planned.

I’m doing anything I can think of that is positive, things that tap into that happy place.

That way, when I see things that remind me of the children that I will miss for the next few weeks, I can give myself a minute to cry or be sad or mad. And then it’s time to dust my hands off and say, “okay, that’s enough of that, now let’s do something fun.”

I'm lucky. I have a husband that loves me and goes out of his way to make me laugh and smile even though his heart is breaking over the children, too. Some days I have to cheer him up, but most days he reminds me that I have to shake off the sadness and so something that makes me smile. 

Life is too short to sit around shell-shocked over things you cannot control or people who are unpredictable and hurtful. Life is for the living and I’m going to live it the way it was meant to be lived. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Sometimes life's not fair for a reason

People always say “life’s not fair.” Sometimes we say it in a whiney voice and sometimes we say it in an adult voice to calm someone around us. We all understand the basic sentiment that we can’t have everything we want, but it’s still hard not to feel like it’s “not fair.”

Every once in a while there are moments when we get some time away from the “life’s not fair”  moment and we have the perspective to realize that we were grateful we didn’t get what we thought we wanted. 

Sometimes we are glad that life wasn’t fair for that moment so that we could get to where we are now.

Right now there are certain aspects of my life that are not fair. They are not right. I have people making decisions for me and my family about “what’s fair” according to the law.

It’s not fair is an understatement in this moment.

But while I feel very strongly that what is happening to my family right now is not fair, I also realize that sometimes these things have to happen in order to get what is ultimately fair.

I have to believe that.

Because to believe that all this pain is happening for no reason is just too unbelievable to me. I can’t imagine that God would allow this to happen to no good reason and I pray for the day when I can look back and say, “Thank God this had to happen to open the door to a better life for my family.”

Thursday, May 22, 2014

If only...

This has been one of the most up and down weeks I’ve had in a long time.

My poor husband has got to have sore feet from walking on eggshells these past few weeks.

One minute I’m happy and laughing, the next I’m mad and doing that thing where I bite my lip and look tired.

But it’s not my fault exactly. My life would be fine if things would just go the way I want them to go—that’s my attempt at humor.  

I got sick which is never good because I hate being sick and I don’t usually go to the doctor because I have no money.  I had some kind of inner ear thing that made my neck so sore I couldn’t move it and it hurt, a lot. I cried.

Robby called his friend who is a massage therapist and he came to the house. I cried again.

The relief his massage work gave me was too amazing for words. The thought that someone would do that for me was too much.

Asking for help is my weak spot, so I cried again later just because I’m so grateful to feel loved and partly because I’m embarrassed to need help.

Asking for help and letting people help me are probably my biggest weaknesses aside from trying to control things.

I went back to counseling this week also. I haven’t seen my counselor since before Robby and I got serious, and we’ll be married two years on Monday.

I can’t believe I’ve allowed myself to get to this point again—I thought I was past all the worry and stress and making myself sick.

It scares me because I’m still in the middle of this and I can’t see how this is affecting me or the people around me. I don’t have that perspective yet where I get to go, “Holy crap, I was a mess.”

It’s hard when you have to deal with a sociopath. You never know what to expect and if you are a recovering control freak like me, that’s a nightmare.

You never know when something will happen or when they will be angry with you or when they are trying to trick you or when they are just serious.

And then on top of that, my financial situation sucks but I like my job. I also know my job will never give me 
any kind of financial freedom so it’s super frustrating.

I can’t base my financial bailout on the lottery either which is tough because winning a million dollars would totally solve most of my problems right now—even half a million would be awesome. Maybe just one of those $50,000 scratch-offs, right?

Do you ever find yourself thinking that—if only….

If only, if only, if only!!!

I’m tired of thinking that “if only” this would happen then things would be better for me.

“If only” is probably not going to happen any time soon, if ever.

And the big problem with “if only” thinking is that it makes me feel like I have some sort of control over the situation and that because I’m not making things better, then I’m a failure.

So, the return of extreme guilt sets in, and what you do know? I’m back in therapy.

It’s hard to explain why I feel the way I do because I know I have nothing to feel guilty about, but I do.

I feel like I should be able to make things better—I should be able to protect my children better.

I am too smart to end up like this.

The problem is we all have weaknesses and sometimes we let life slowly trickle in and attack those weaknesses. Then over time, we get so worn down we don’t even recognize ourselves when we look in the mirror—all we see is this tired, old person who looks very unhappy and we have no idea how we got here.

So, it’s time, again, to lace up those boot straps and fight again, even though I’m freaking tired and I don’t feel well.

It’s time to let people help me. It’s time to focus on myself a little more. It’s time to tell the haters to shut the hell up. It’s time to get back to where I want to be in life—happy.

I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again and I’ll keep doing it until I take my last breath because I’ll be damned before I go back to how things used to be. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Emotionally drained

This past week has been exhausting. I feel like I’ve been pulled a million different directions.
Sometimes I wonder--what is more exhausting, physical exercise or emotional distress? I’d say emotional distress for sure.

Some people know how to drain the life out of you—if you let him.

I have to be careful to not allow myself to be drained. It’s hard when you want everyone to be happy and for things to not get out of control.

But then I have to ask myself—why should everyone be happy and what does out of control really mean?

I’ve learned the hard way that when I try to control things, I end up in utter chaos and completely wiped out emotionally. It’s hard to just let things go, but I have to remind myself that everyone is responsible for their own decisions and it’s not my job to make their life easier.

Also, just because someone is happy now, that doesn’t mean they will be happy later on. For example?
My daughter is now a teen and trying to find her independence and push the boundaries. Luckily it’s all pretty normal stuff, but it still requires punishment.

I understand that it’s okay to make her mad NOW in order to set her up for happiness LATER in life, but getting to that point is rough. It’s rough on all my relationships.

Just like all couples, I am the easy one and Robby is the strict one. I try hard to be strict, but it gets exhausting to always be “by the book.”

And just like all couples who want their children to grow up to be good adults, we fight over punishments and behaviors and how to co-parent in a world where there is another parent in the next town over who also gets a say-so in my daughter’s life.

And let’s not forget all the unsolicited, and some solicited, advice I get from grandparents, siblings, friends, co-workers, teachers, neighbors, etc.

While I need help, all the extra voices in my head tend to make decisions even harder. It’s like co-parenting with a village, but in the end, I am the one who has to make the ultimate decision. I am the one who has to make decisions that might make my children grow into productive adults or make them become larger children that suck the life out of me until I die.

I am the one who has to keep the ex in the loop while trying to maintain boundaries that don’t allow him to insult my parenting skills or make me feel like I need to defend the way I raise my children.

I am the one who feels the need to explain why I made a decision and why I think it was a good one.
Parenting comes with enough guilt and I’m not sure why I feel the need to constantly second guess my parenting skills.

At the end of the day, I have to depend on myself to come to terms with my ability to parent, my ability to be strong, my ability to maintain my boundaries and my knowledge that future happiness is something you have to work hard for and it doesn’t show up when you lie down and give up because things are tough.

I realized this week, I am a good parent. I’m not doing anything to hurt my children and I’m not going to let you make me think I am because you have insecurities and you would rather blame me than believe you have no idea what you are talking about.

I realize that things may seem black and white to some people, but I don’t see it that way and I don’t have to if I don’t want to. I have to make the ultimate decision so I have to make a choice I can live with.

I realized that there are always going to be people who want to make me doubt myself and there are some people who on some hidden level need me to doubt myself. It must be scary for them to encounter me—and if they aren’t scared, then they must not be living in reality.

It’s tough to be a mom—it’s tough to be a woman. It’s tough to be that person who is supposed to be everyone’s cheerleader and keep things moving smoothly but to also appear somewhat fragile so she doesn’t scare people away.

I interviewed a woman recently and she said, “My only downfall was that I was ‘before my time.’”
She said men didn’t know what to think about her because she was a good business person—she asked questions and called people out on their bullshit.

“If I was a man, I would have been applauded for being a great businessman, but I am a woman so I was the B-word,” she said.

Sometimes I wonder how I would be treated if I was a man and then I quickly realize there isn’t enough money in the world to make me ever want to be a man.

I’m not sure if it’s my quiet nature or if there is something else I am doing that makes people not take me seriously?

My husband always says, “Don’t mistake my politeness for weakness.”

I like that statement. I wanted to scream that phrase at the top of my lungs by the end of this week. To be honest, I wanted to just scream anything.

But most importantly, I just wanted to scream, “Give me a break!!!”

Seriously, give me a break.

I got this. I can do this. I’ve been doing this. I’m pretty damn good at it. But the constant second guessing coming from all angles is going to make me forget that I can do this.

Pretty sure that last sentence was written for me. I guess I need to be mad at myself for forgetting that. I guess I need to give myself a break, too.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sometimes a near death experience is what you need.

I noticed I’ve started quite a few of these blog posts with the same, “well, it’s been a while since I’ve written…” so I’ll skip that part this time and get to what’s on my mind.

It’s been a while for so many reasons. Robby was in the hospital sick for about 5 days. He had been sick off and on for a while. It wasn’t anything alarming, so we both just thought he would shake it off and start feeling better.

Turns out he had a strep infection in his blood and it almost killed him.

He called me at work on a Thursday morning, the day before Valentine’s Day, and said he needed me to come get him at work and take him to the clinic because he almost passed out at school. By the time I got there, the ambulance was on its way and his heart rate was dangerously high.

The rest is a blur of little scenes of the crowded emergency room, so hearing him scream when they had to shock his heart with the paddles to being stuck in the hospital with lists of tests but little answers.

Robby had never been to the hospital with me and I’ve never been with him, so this was all new. He was surprised how prepared I was for his stay, how I knew the right questions to ask and I was able to handle the nurses and doctors. I guess all my training with Veronica has made me a handy person to have in the hospital.

Somehow through all the chaos I was able to get the kids to and from school every day with the lunches packed, homework done, and uniforms clean. I was able to balance work and life and stay caught up. I was able to get the kids packed up and off to their dad’s for the weekend with no drama.

I also found a way to hit Walgreens at 9:30 p.m. to get Jude’s Valentines for school and make sure he showed up on Friday morning with everything for his friends and teachers. Veronica was no different, and I’m not sure how I managed. I have this ability to go into autopilot in bad situations and this time was no different. 

I had help from a new and very dear friend, another friend I’ve inherited from Robby. And of course, Robby’s other friends showed up and checked in on him . Everyone called him and kept him company when I had to run an errand or go home to get a few hours of sleep and walk the dogs.

And just like everything else, Robby and I survived the madness. But just like everything else, the madness left us with issues to deal with.

While I can’t speak for Robby and what he has to come to terms with from the entire ordeal, I can speak for myself and reflect on anther stressful moment in my life.

I am grateful to the friends I have in Savannah—they are just as good as family in so many ways and I don’t want anything I’m about to write to take away from that. Especially since the one family member I have in town that I needed the most to support us, spent the time being angry at me and refusing to call my phone to ask questions.

While that isn’t a surprise to most people, it really hurt me for some reason and it was days before I could shake my anger. I still haven’t talked to that person, and I’m not sure if I’ll feel like speaking to her for a while.

The feelings that come after I reach out to someone with love and they reach back with petty anger and meanness are feelings that bring up past hurt and sometimes I find it really hard to shake that hurt and anger.
I also realized that for the first time in a long time, I’m really homesick for my real family. Even though I haven’t said anything, I guess Robby was picking up on that feeling.

He surprised me for my birthday with a visit from my sister. I can’t express how much I needed to see her. For the first time since everything had happened with Robby, I finally allowed myself to cry and admit my loneliness.

I haven’t been able to go back to Texas for several years now and I miss it. My parents still live in my childhood home and I miss being in my old room and sharing it with my children. I miss hanging out with my brothers and my sister and playing games and staying up late.

I really don’t understand what has happened to make me homesick. I guess I miss the familiarity. I guess I miss the bond that comes from being around family.

The friends I have now are great and I love them, but it’s just not the same and sometimes I just miss that feeling.

I miss the food in Texas. I miss seeing my old friends. I miss little things.

Then I think back to what happened with Robby in the emergency room. When the doctors couldn’t get his heart rate to level out and the monitors were beeping loudly.  The doctor asked me to leave the room so they could shock him.

I walked out in to the crowded hallway that was lined with gurneys of sick people. I thought, “This is it—he’s going to die of a heart attack just like his father. This just can’t be the end of it.”

Later that night, I thought about what I would do if something did happen with him.

Would I continue to stay in Savannah? Would I move to N.C. to be closer to my sister and the family I have there? Would I move back to Texas? Would the kids be okay?

I have no idea what I would do, and I’m so grateful that I wasn’t faced with that decision. I’m not ready for this life to end—I don’t want to be in a world that doesn’t include Robby.

Life is full of uncertainties. Just when we feel like we have everything figured out, we get hit with something that makes us re-think everything we thought was solid. We have to question ourselves and our motives.

We have to look at what is really important and wonder what is lacking in our lives that makes us homesick or makes us feel unsettled or unfulfilled.

I have to try to understand why I always feel the need to move around and go from place to place and why it’s hard to for me to establish roots.

What keeps me from being settled and why does staying in one place for too long make me feel stuck?
And why is it wrong to feel that way? Maybe it’s not.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Breaking old habits is hard

It’s quiet this morning and I have time to write a blog so I feel like I should do something creative. It’s only Sunday, but this has been a very long weekend already.

I’m not going to write about what all has happened these past few weeks. It’s too exhausting to even think about it at this point. But it’s nothing new…same song different day.

And I’m tired of that song.

While the song is the same—someone continues to disrupt my family—the way I listen to the tune has changed quite a bit.

I’ve been looking back at old journals and thinking back to how I used to handle my personal life, and I’ve discovered an unsettling habit I picked up along the way.  

Somehow I’ve always managed to keep my personal life from invading and ruining my professional life—I successfully finished a demanding grad program with high scores, made a living as a freelance writer who never missed a deadline and now I have my current job and so far I’ve managed to keep the personal stuff personal and not let it run over to missed deadlines or missed days.

I had to learn to compartmentalize things a long time ago. There was a time for crying and there was a time to put on a happy face and be happy mommy and make everyone think we were a happy little family. It was scary to me how good I got at that.

I still do it today. I get hit with a bomb late at night or early in the morning, and I still manage to stroll into work on time every day, handle my work with a smile and walk out without having the meltdown I want to have—you know, the kind of meltdown where you yell at someone who is an idiot and can’t follow simple instructions.

Sometimes I worry that compartmentalizing my private life to keep it from affecting my professional life will somehow shut down my ability to have normal reactions to things that are really sad.

And it makes it even harder that I work in a newsroom where we are constantly flooded with bad news and I find myself slowly growing accustomed to shutting down that part of me that is supposed to be sad.

This weekend, I allowed myself to have that full-blown meltdown where I cry and scream and allow myself to get really angry at people. And it felt really good to get that off my chest. If felt really good to be honest and say exactly how I feel.

I’m so worried about everyone’s feelings all the time that I forget about my own. I forget that sometimes I need to make things easier for myself—not just protect those around me from seeing me very angry or really sad.

I’ve also learned that the person who used to have the most effect on me, doesn’t have that affect any more.
They say the opposite of love or hate is indifference—I believe I have finally reached that point.

Indifference feels really nice. It’s nice to go toe-to-toe with someone who used to wind me up and now not feel anything except pity for that person. But even that pity doesn’t make me feel sorry for that person—just pity that he is his own worst enemy and always will be.

So what does all this mean? It means I realized that it’s time to start de-compartmentalizing my life and trying to figure out how all this fits together so I can’t stop keeping everyone at arm’s length all the time.

It’s sad to me to realize that I have only made a few close friends over these past several years. Sure, I have friends, but it’s not the same close relationships I used to make when I was much younger.

I can only think of about three people that I have made close friendships with over the past five years, and I really don’t see them much or talk often enough.

It’s hard for me to really trust people after what I have been through, but even more importantly, I carry such a huge burden of shame that I worry other women won’t want to be my friend if they knew what my life has been like—or who I really am.

It’s hard to undo the re-programing a bad ex-husband can do to you—always trying to change me and always pointing out my mistakes to show how people won’t like me if they knew I drank wine, watched rated-R movies or any of the other “non-Baptist” things I did.

It seems funny to think I haven’t shook that off yet, but that kind of programming can go deeper than you think and I realize I still haven’t fully shook it off.

So, I guess for me, 2014 will be that year where I reach really deep into my soul and find a way to be okay with myself—okay enough to stop keeping everyone at arm’s length. Okay enough to really believe that there isn’t anything wrong with me. Okay enough to be who I really am and not worry about what others think of me.

As easy as it sounds when I tell my children to just be themselves and not worry about what others think, we all know that is one of the hardest things to do—even as a grown adult.