All posts by Stifle Me Not

Setting Myself Free…Again

I’m so tired of being stuck in other people’s lives. I want my own life.

In high school, I was naive and of course always wanted to be who I wasn’t and who I couldn’t be. I wanted to be like miss popular her or her or her. People liked me just fine for who I was so I just blame that on being young and dumb.

In college, I desperately wanted to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do when I grew up. I settled. I figured out what I didn’t like and settled for what wasn’t terrible to me just so I was comfortable. I didn’t push for what I really wanted.

After college, I moved home with the parents for one year. I spent every weekend an hour away with my then-boyfriend (now-ex). After a year, I moved 5 minutes away from my then-boyfriend (now ex). I have literally been making major life decisions and living my life around his every since then. The night that I kicked him out, I set myself free, and entered a world of uncertainty for the first time because it was all about me and what I wanted.

Or so I thought.

When I moved in with my parents last summer to make sure my kids had a decent roof over their heads and a consistent daily lifestyle, that’s what I got. As well as being inundated with all of their beliefs and habits and patterns. They mean well, but after all of their years on earth, they aren’t about to change now. They know what they like and don’t like. And I try to respect their routines and wishes since I’ve overstayed my welcome here.

But it’s getting old. I went from living one person’s life to living another’s. This is what I was trying to get away from when I moved away the first time. And somehow I managed to do a 360. Right back to the start of the circle. Everything from how I load the dishwasher to how quiet or loud I am when I walk up the stairs is affected by others right now and I just want to be free in my own space and my own skin.

I feel like I’m in therapy with myself. I start to make a decision, and then I overthink it because my perspective of what this person or that person will think overwhelms me. And I keep having to pause and remind myself that I get to choose what I want. I’m 40 years old damnit, I know what I want.

What I want.

I’m trying to move up the plan for starting my house-hunting journey. Wish me luck.

Stifle Me Not

The In Between of What Has Been and What Could Be

I’ve been feeling sorry for myself lately. I’m not sure why exactly. I can only describe it as missing where I no longer am even though I didn’t like where I was back then, and wishing I was somewhere else.

How stupid is that?

So freakin’ stupid.

I’m simultaneously living in the past and wishing my life away.

It’s like I miss my old life and am excited for a new one all at the same time. And I can’t make the new life come any faster without disrupting the present, and memories of my past just keep flooding back and I have to fight off the urge to sink back into the abyss of what no longer serves me. I keep having to remind myself that I’ve been rebuilding myself from my own personal ground zero for almost 2 years now. I don’t think anyone without super powers loses their own personal everything and just gets right back up again.

I’m (im)patiently trying to save for a house. I have a plan, I’m saving according to my budget. And, I’m bored. I’m so freakin’ BORED!

You’d think boredom would be the least of my worries as a single divorced working mom of two. But the restlessness of what has been and what could be are colliding into a cloud of dust, making it hard to see through what I already know. Even if what I know is that the unknown has more potential to be better than anything I’ve ever known before.

I’ve cut myself off from shopping sprees and filling the grocery cart with whatever goodies I want. Or going out with friends whenever I want (well, I don’t have many friends, so who cares). I’m on a strict budget for the next 8 1/2 weeks. I have a countdown app on my phone. Goal: I’m going to be ready to be pre-approved for my own big girl house by November 1st.

If I can’t save a shit-ton of money in the next 8 1/2 weeks, then I have learned nothing in the past 2 years. I have been forced to live on a minuscule budget on unemployment for months at a time.. I know how shop for the bare minimum and make ends meet with gas and groceries. I know how to forego the extras on my debit card. I know how to be bored and entertain myself with a WIFI connection or even just a pen and paper. I feel like I’ve been training for this speed budget plan all my life and I can’t give up now.

Why now? Why not a few months ago? Well, a few months ago, I finally got a job. I finally got to buy myself some basic clothes that fit me. I finally got to spoil my kids a little bit. I finally got to taste the fruits of my hard labor from switching careers. Now, it’s now or never. I can live with my parents for months and months more and save slowly, or I can speed save and get the f*&k out.

We’re all sick of each other. No one is saying it. No one is at each other’s throats. You can just feel that it’s time. My kids know it’s time. If I can get pre-approved by Nov 1, I could be moved into my own little piece of heaven by Christmas. A girl can dream.

Stifle Me Not

 

 

 

Gifts Coming Full Circle

This week I talked to a mortgage broker and we made a plan for when it realistically makes sense for me to get pre-approved to buy a home. I could do it now, but I have a few more things to clean up before I go that route. The daily life of living at my parents’ house has not been unbearable. I have the patience and the will power to hold out a bit longer. I have a feeling the payoff will be rewarding. That feeling usually serves me well.

In the meantime, I refinanced my car this week. I asked the mortgage broker to refer me to someone that does car loans. He referred me to a friend of his at a local bank to refinance my car at a good rate. I had to get my ex’s name off of my car loan. When I scheduled the meeting to go sign the closing paperwork, I found out that my first payment isn’t until mid-November (more money to save for a house!) and I got a YETI cooler as a gift. I had no idea about these perks, but it was a welcome surprise.

Now, I’m not here being paid to endorse YETI, but as an owner of this brand’s coffee cup, I will say that I am a fan. I love keeping my hot drinks hot and my cold drinks cold. This brand figured it out and makes quality products in my opinion.

But this situation with the YETI cooler is a bit ironic.

Let me explain.

After being together for 18 years, and married for 11, I found myself becoming increasingly stressed when it came to birthdays, Father’s day, and Christmas gifts for my ex. I have a problem with giving, and over-giving. I give too much of myself and never expect  anything in return. Even if I do expect it, I don’t express my disappointment if I don’t get it. I make excuses for others and go about my business secretly unhappy. My ex knew that. I just figured it out in the last few years. Smart manipulating guy. Naive me (I was too busy thinking of others)… but not anymore.

So one of the last time’s I was stressing about getting him a gift (I think it was his birthday in 2017), I considered getting him the exact YETI cooler (that I just received as a gift for my car loan). Giving big nice gifts had become my thing. I felt like every year I was trying to outdo the last gift that I gave. But each time I would surprise myself and think of something even grander that he would love. And he did, he loved all of it. Well that year I looked into buying him a YETI cooler, and I was about to buy it. I had it picked out and was about to buy it online. But I didn’t. Something was off. I just thought  I shouldn’t spend so much money that year for some reason. Again, a little later I was at a sporting goods store and had the YETI right in front of me and almost bought it. Again, something was off. I don’t remember what gift I ended up getting him, but it wasn’t that. And I wasn’t excited by his reaction when he opened whatever it was that I bought, but I didn’t care for some reason.

I remember thinking later that I’d wished I had gotten the cooler because I wanted it. But whatever, I figured I’d just saved some money and moved on with life.

So now here I am in present day, and I’m relieved that I didn’t buy that damn cooler and listened to my gut. That small little whisper that says “hey, you, what are you doing?”… that little nagging thought that is surrounded by question marks and a weird feeling in your belly…

I recently listened to it again when that asshole was trying to talk me out of buying a home where I’m presently looking. And instead of giving into my frets about him trying to sway my decisions, I called a mortgage broker, which led me to the place where I refinanced my car, which led to my own free YETI cooler and more money for me to save toward my future home.

I’m going to buy a great home, and I’m going to throw a house-warming party with lots of ice and drinks in my YETI cooler.

I’d say this wasn’t just some coincidence. I see you God and your universe angels, quietly looking out for me. My eyes are wide open.

Thank for these gifts that promise cold drinks and peace of mind.

Stifle Me Not

Fretting No Longer

I’ve been fretting a little bit. It’s my own fault. I fret… due to others. It’s this problem of mine that I’ve been trying to rid myself of for quite some time. It’s why my life had to get worse before it got better.

My ex must be bored and overthinking himself to death because he’s slowly surfaced (outside of when he’s interfacing with the kids) and managed to worm his way into an unprotected part of my brain. I’ve been working on this brain of mine. I really have. It’s just that, when I least expect it, old habits die hard and I let that muther-effer get the best of a mini part of my brain. That is all it takes, and it has quite honestly ruined my week.

It’s like he knows when I’m even thinking about doing something different. We’re connected in that way. I always used to know what he was thinking or about to do or say before he did. It was endearing and annoying and quite sabotaging all at the same time.

I’ve been in my parents house with my kids for almost a year now. They are healthy and happy and love their schools. We’ve started seeing new doctors here. I’ve established myself into my new career and job. I don’t think it’s a toxic work environment and it’s certainly not a dead end job of the past. We now live here. Happily.

So with this promise of future income, I’ve been “unofficially” searching for homes the past few weeks, which consists of browsing realtor.com and doing a drive-by when time allows. But lately I’ve had the urge to make the leap to mortgage land.

Earlier this week, my ex sends me a text that he’d like to “talk” to me before I shop for a new home. I text back that nothing is official yet and I’m just browsing. He responds again that he just wants to “talk”.

Do you know what that’s code for? That’s code for he wants to talk me out of buying a house that isn’t conveniently located near him to access the kids whenever he damn well pleases.

I have no support system up north by him. He is a firefighter, so when he’s working (which is often), I have no one to help out me and my kids. He has as much access to our kids as he wants right now – no matter the hour distance. We each drive half-way to meet up when we exchange the kids. Post-divorce control mechanisms have no part in my life now, or ever. However, he apparently thinks that he can even pull it off.

I simply responded to his text, “ok”… and in my head I was a wreck for the rest of the week. I’ve been waiting for him to text back and demand talking to me. I’ve been dreading this damn talk. I’ve been trying to come up with what words I’d say and not say so that I wouldn’t piss him off.

His text was on Tuesday. Today is Sunday. It took me more than 5 days to realize that I don’t have to talk to him about my future living arrangements. It’s not like I’m trying to move out of the country. I’m in the same area I’ve always been, it would just be in my own home. And that kills him. He doesn’t want me to succeed. He wants to control me.

I’m my own person, with my own thoughts, and my own free will. I’m not a bad person. I’m not insane (as I’ve told time and time again for years and years … “you’re insane!”). I’m doing what’s best for my kids. They aren’t being put into bad situations and they see their dad regularly. This is better for them than me living with him and ending up mentally ill from not being able to acknowledge the reality of being in a painful relationship with him. I’m doing what’s right and good. He’s trying to control me. He’s a narcissist. He’s gas-lighting me as he’s done dozens upon dozens of times before.

So I have not talked to him. I sent an email to a mortgage broker instead. 

Stifle Me Not.

Good-bye Old Patterns

I’m 40 and I’m finally somewhat happy.

I say “somewhat” because I feel like I have a new life that is just beginning. There’s more to come. But I’m pretty freakin’ happy considering how my life was since October 2017. I’m in a whole new world and I like it. It’ a little scary at times, but I welcome it.

I find that my path right now is to continue taking care of my family the best way I know how while continuing to be honest with myself. To not repeat old patterns and push through past mistakes. Don’t repeat the past. If it didn’t work the first 500 times, it won’t work now.

Because I’m finally single, my mind naturally drifts to a thought of “who will I be with next?”

And that is quickly followed up with “ugh, is anyone really worth it?” I get very anxious when I think of different guys and how our lives might “fit” together. Because “fit” in my mind ends up with me accommodating someone… and I’m over that old pattern.

I recently had a friend ask me if I was dating. I said I was open to it. But what she meant was am I online dating. No, no I’m not. And no, I have no desire to match myself online with random strangers at this time. It’s bad enough getting to know a semi-stranger in person let alone online. I actually missed the online dating boat by a few years. It didn’t become popular until I was already dating my ex. Then we moved on to get married. I never had the opportunity to do the online dating thing.

Now it’s normal. But I’m not there yet. I’m not comfortable or even remotely interested in it.

My friend’s response to me was “Well,  you’re just gonna have to get over that.”

Do I really?

I’m loving life right now. I don’t think I need a perfect stranger to get in the way of that.

Stifle Me Not

 

Happy Birthday to Me

Today is my 40th birthday.

Apparently I had it in my head that I was going to have some kind of big birthday celebration all year leading up to today. And when it didn’t happen, I wasn’t surprised, but I guess I was a little disappointed. But I don’t really know why, because I’m not really sure who would have thrown me a party or baked me a cake. I have no husband, or boyfriend for that matter. My friends all live far away. And my family is wrapped up in many other things these days.

Unfortunately, when I woke up today. I found out that my stepmom’s father had to go into hospice. It will only be a matter of days and he will leave this life. It put a little bit of a damper on the day. Here I want to celebrate my 40 years on earth and someone else is about to take his last breath. It’s heartbreaking, and unfair, and very real.

My parents took me out to eat last night and that was nice. I got a few cards and flower arrangements in the mail and that was nice. I spent the day swimming with my kids and listening to them laugh. That was great. At the end of the day, I made my own quesadilla and did a load of laundry.

Today may not have been the best day ever for a birthday celebration, but I’m alive and healthy and about to start a new decade. And for that I am grateful.

Happy Birthday to Me

Stifle Me Not

 

Irreplaceable Me

My name is changed. I’ve financially stabilized myself. My kids and I are getting in a routine of back and forth visits with their dad. Everyone appears to be healthy and happy (until it’s bed time, and then let the grumbles roll). And just as we’ve finally adjusted to this new normal, to something stable and familiar, my ex decides to complicate things – this is what he does.

This week he sent me a text message saying he’s “been seeing someone” and he planned to have her over and introduce the kids to her. All of the emotions came in waves – worry about my kids’ well-being, anger that he’s choosing someone that isn’t me, and relief that he’s moving on… all the feelings wrapped up into a tangled web of past memories and future hopes and dreams. My savor thought was “you got rid of him, you told him to leave and didn’t want to put up with his shit”. Oh yea, I did.

His text came later in the afternoon when I was at work on Tuesday. I simply replied “Ok” and moved on about my day. I didn’t have the time or energy to dwell on that new development while at work. After work, I got in my car and drove off, as the tears streamed down… but only for about 5 minutes. It was weird. I thought I might be a mess. I might cry all night. But I couldn’t really cry. It was an initial shock wave of tears that just… stopped. Because, other than being concerned that this new woman will treat my kids well, I just didn’t care.

Haha, I just don’t CARE! And oh my gosh that is a great and freeing feeling.

My daughter was confused as to why I wasn’t upset when she told me about the evening that they had dinner and hung out with their dad’s new friend (aka victim). I let her know that as long as this person is kind and treats them well, it’s all okay. My daughter feels as though her dad is replacing me. He is, in his own way,  for his own selfish needs. It isn’t really about me – he really can’t ever replace me.

I always knew this day would come – when I’d have to face the fact that he’s choosing someone else over  me , but I’m irreplaceable. I assured my daughter that everything is going to be okay, and even told her that I’m “irreplaceable” as their mom. She looked at me with wide eyes, surprised at my optimism.

Knowing this man that I spent 18 years of my life with, I know that he does not change. His basic human nature is ego-driven, always, and this poor woman is now in the center of his world, which is a self-filled mess of his needs. And I am free.

Stifle Me Not

 

 

Confident

I’m proud of myself lately. I don’t know who I’ve become, but I’m way better off than in previous years.

2 years ago, something seemed off, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Little did I know that I was going to have a “Life Overhaul” within the next six months.

1.5 years ago, I was literally in despair and consumed in a world of confusion and chaos.

1 year ago, I was about to sell my house and dive into the great unknown. No job, no relationship, no home as I knew it – no clarity whatsoever.

6 months ago, I was working a part-time job without benefits and just barely making ends meet.

Today, the possibilities seem endless. I’ve come a long way.

Lately, if I think it, I make it come true.

I’m not afraid to make things happen. If I want it, I go get it. I was never like this before.

Example: I’ve been at my job for a month now. I was told by my boss, when I first started, that I there would be an out of town meeting that I would have to go to. It was very early in the morning, meaning I’d have to go out of town the evening before, and stay at a hotel to be there in time. I knew full well that it was a good idea to go and begin forming relationships with people that I’ll be constantly working with.

I silently fretted about this because of my kids, but quickly made child care arrangements so that I could go.

So this week rolls around and my boss informs me that I don’t have to go for the full meeting. Just about 2 hours of it. What? He was trying to be nice. He was trying to be considerate that I have kids and not make me drive down the night before. I was disappointed because I wanted to meet these new people I’ll be working with. And I was annoyed because I already went to great lengths to adjust my schedule.

Old me would’ve been mad and just listened to my boss and only gone for the 2 hours I was told. All while silently resenting the fact that I should be there the whole time.

New me waited a day, voiced her opinion that it would probably better for the long term if I went for the full meeting. As it turns out, the boss was happy to get me a hotel room and have me come for the whole meeting.

This may not sound like a big deal, but in old me vs. new me land, it is. I used to let people and situations intimidate me. It would wear me out. And then I would wonder why I was so unhappy.

I just don’t feel so afraid of, well, life, anymore.

I hear myself talking to family, friends, co-workers.. and I sound confident.

Confident.

I’m happy with my job. I’m happy with my kids. I’m happy that I’m me. I’m so thankful for this feeling. It is amazing.

The possibilities are endless.

Stifle Me Not

Identity Renewal

The last two weeks have been a rat race. I basically started working full time again after 1.5 years, continued to care for my awesome children (without losing my mind), and somehow squeezed in a divorce and a name change.

Productive June so far.

When I look at it that way, it’s no wonder that a  couple of days ago I was so drained I could barely function to work or drive. I took some ibuprofen and drank some fluids, hoping it would just get me to the end of the day. It did. Barely. I usually have some sort of dinner plan for my kids, even if its peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I just like to make sure they’re fed and bathed every night. Sometimes we hang out, sometimes we go out to eat, sometimes we play or snuggle, and other times we each do our own thing. This was a “we each do our own thing” kind of night.

On this day that I didn’t feel well, I fed my  son (the 3-year old) as soon as we walked in the door, and I told the 10-year old she was on her own to find something to eat. I then proceeded to lay in my bed and fell asleep by 8:30 PM. I got up briefly to tuck everyone in and called it a night. Not mom of the year, but this mama had to do some serious resting. And they were fine. Thanks to Netflix.

The exhaustion is real. It’s physical and mental. I’ve been doing my best to ramp up at my new job in these first few weeks, and by the end of the day it takes its toll on me. I’m thoroughly exhausted by 5 pm, and then I have an evening of single-mothering ahead of me. Luckily we have a pretty consistent schedule down and the kids pretty much just go with it.

Today I was supposed to take my kids to a family thing I committed to a few weeks ago. By the end of the day I was toast, my daughter wasn’t feeling well, and my son was, well, himself being the 3-year old (so challenging as usual). I threw up my hands and threw in the towel – we didn’t go. I couldn’t bear to make me or my kids have to do something that we didn’t want to do after a long day and then end up getting home late that evening. I just gave up and said sorry, not sorry. And we had a delightful little quiet evening of pizza and cartoons. Sometimes it pays off to hermit.

Also today, my updated Social Security Card came in the mail. I felt like it was a little prize to help me keep going. It has the name that I was born with and the name I’m going back to. It’s all mine. This weekend I’m going to get my driver’s license updated. Then, name change complete.

Last June I was frantically looking for a new job and deciding if I should sell my house to make ends meet. This June I’m changing my name, working my ass off, and moving forward faster than I would have ever imagined. In the past year, I’ve changed my living situation, relationship, career, and my name. What’s most refreshing is that I have a renewed outlook on life and I feel like I’ve renewed myself – my entire identity has grown, and keeps on evolving.

Damn, it was a hard, but it sure feels good to see the sunlight.

Stifle Me Not

 

 

An Uplifting Ending

Today was the day. The day I’ve been waiting for since I walked into my lawyer’s office on October 30, 2017.

Divorce Day.

Okay, it was Dissolution Day. Not as dramatic, but still a milestone in my book.

My mom accompanied me on my little journey up north. It was an hour drive. I dropped my son off at daycare, then flew home to put chicken in the crock pot (because that’s apparently what you do on Divorce Day – you worry about dinner and putting chicken in the crock pot). By 7:30 AM, my mom was outside waiting in the car, and I was hugging my daughter goodbye, pawning her off on grandma for the day.

My mom and I started out toward a Starbucks’s drive-thru, only to find out that it was closed because the parking lot was getting repaved. All I wanted was coffee and a smooth ride to the courthouse. I made my way toward the highway with the vision of a Dunkin’ Donuts shop on the corner. There was a drive thru line, but it was steadily moving. I sucked up the 5-minute anxious wait in line to get each of us a coffee and finally moved toward the highway. I was feeling a little behind, but we left early on purpose, so we were actually right on time.

The drive was fine. When we got off the highway up north in the busy part of the city, my mom got anxious in the passenger’s seat. I finally made it to a nearby parking garage where we drove around for eternity looking for a spot, and almost was driven into head on by a careless man in a sports car. I pointed at him and scolded him to slow down as he mouthed “I’m sorry” from his driver’s seat. Idiot. All I could think was that this dissolution must be meant to be for us to not have hit each other.

I dragged my mom to the correct court building, made our way through the security line, and up to the 3rd floor. I located the correct court room and spotted my soon to be ex husband at the same time. He was sitting there with his lawyer. I walked up to him and said that my lawyer was picking up some file and on her way. I was relieved to have made it on time, still anxious from the parking garage, and numb to the fact that I was about to get divorced. He pointed out that I should go check in with the bailiff, and so I did. I then sat with my mom on a nearby bench as she chattered at me about her dogs and other things that didn’t register fully. I was slightly annoyed that my lawyer was late (even though she really wasn’t). I just wanted it all to be over.

I finally saw my lawyer happily strolling down the hall toward me. This was only the second time I’d met with her in person. The first time was October 30, 2017. The second time now on June 4, 2019. She had the required paperwork with her, her and my ex’s lawyer conversed, and she had me review and sign a few papers.

Then we waited some more. I’m now an expert at waiting after the past year and a half.

Finally we were called into the courtroom. My lawyer and I sat together on a bench behind my ex and his lawyer. We basically watched as two other couple’s got their dissolution before us. It was weird.

And then it was our turn. Our turn to terminate our marriage. It was fairly quick. Maybe 5 minutes. We each had to answer a series of questions. I went first. Then I held my breath as he was asked the same questions. I almost thought he was going to protest something, but he didn’t. He didn’t. He hasn’t. He never once in the whole year and a half try to save any of it. And so that was why I was there — because he didn’t try.

At the end, the judge told us something that surprised me. She said we should be proud of ourselves for getting a dissolution and not putting our kids through a divorce. And I was proud. It was a long crappy road, but I think we did do a great thing for our kids.

Before I knew it, we were ushered out of the court room and on our way to get certified copies of divorce decrees. We waited there, together, with our lawyers and my mom. It was awkward. Nothing like waiting around in a records office with your ex and some divorce lawyers. My lawyer chattered about a bird she had saved a few days ago. How were we talking about a bird?

Once I walked out of the court house and into the sunshine, I felt a weight lift. I felt very free. The drive home was smooth. My mom and I chit chatted the whole way. I wished I had taken the day off, but since I just started my new job, I didn’t want to miss a whole day already. I dropped my mom off at her car, got some lunch, and headed into work. No one in the office knew where I had been, but I felt good and just wanted to get some work done.

Leading up to this day I kept thinking that I’d feel bad somehow. I kept thinking this would be a negative experience. The whole process sucked, but this ending is not bad. It is good. It is me being honest with myself and living a life that isn’t suppressing my spirit.

Today was an uplifting ending to the start of what could not be if today never was.

Stifle Me Not