Category Archives: Healing

Seeing Clearly (Sucks)

Yesterday was an interesting day. It was a tiring but very necessary day. It was my daughter’s birthday – that should have been the main event. What I didn’t expect was the ending to the day. My daughter sat on the couch with me that evening and began venting. She does this often, but she’s usually ranting about her friends or teachers or something she wants to buy. But this time, it was about her father.

Let me back up to provide better context. Ever since I found out that my ex-husband was, in fact, a certified covert narcissist and lying manipulative cheater, I have not shared any of the fun facts about the divorce with my children. Anything has been on a need-to-know basis. For many reasons, but mostly because 1) they’re too young and it isn’t appropriate, 2) they still very much needed a father to parent them, and 3) my parents shared entirely too much information during their divorce and it just wasn’t necessary.

I’ve never lied to my kids, but I haven’t given them a bunch of unnecessary details either. They know I’m not a fan of their dad, but I always tell them he loves them and focus on shared parenting as much as possible. As my daughter has gotten older, she regularly asks me “Why did you and daddy really break up?” I tell her she’ll understand by the time she’s in her 30s. I believe she even thought I was at fault for breaking up the family at one point, and she’s challenged me numerous times about being the reason for all of the upheaval in her life.

I guess her dad recently told her his version and actually confessed to being a cheater. I’m not stupid enough to think he truly owned it, I’m sure I was made out to be a villian in some way. Ever since then, she seemed to observe him more closely. One day she told me she knew why we split, but I still kept quiet. No point in rehashing the past or adding fuel to a fire that is already out in my mind. She didn’t seem mad at him, but I’ve noticed that she picks up on many more of his personality traits and habits lately. She is observant anyhow, but this new fact has her very fixated on his behavior lately. It started out with her noticing small things he does or says. Until last night when it all snowballed into one big realization that her dad is not the person she has idealized her whole life.

I didn’t say too much, except to acknowledge that I understood what she was referring to when she described the situation she was frustrated about. She was telling me about how he was responding to (aka manipulating) her opinion about something. As she was talking, it’s like I was forced back through a time warp when I was with him and he had me doubting and questioning my reality over and over and over. It was a personal hell of mine, to have to do that on a daily basis to the point of detaching myself from my own reality just to survive. It is not a place I want to go back to, nor do I want her to live in that world.

My daughter was experiencing the madness of communicating with her narcistic father. I always wondered if it was just me, or if he would end up treating the kids similarly to me. I guess I got my answer. My daughter sees it for what it is right now, because she’s 13. At 13, you see things clearly. It may be confusing but she’s seeing it play out in real time – It’s not too late for her yet. I will calmly support her without aggravating the situation to the best of my ability. The good news is she has already been talking to a counselor regularly, and said she wants to talk to the counselor about her father. I am hopeful that she will not relive the past I went through with her father. I really hope she can have a relationship with him and not be manipulated by him. I don’t know. It worries me, but I’m confident in her.

It really sucks to find out that a parent is not who you thought they were.

After a lot of venting and some tears, my sweet daughter fell asleep on my lap as I pet her hair. She laid there peacefully for about 15 minutes and then hugged me and went to bed. I was so proud of her for owning her feelings, facing her doubts, and being honest about her realization.

And I have never felt so validated in my life. It’s taken almost a decade, and last night was the first time I could breathe in a long time. More challenges always await, but I can see so much clearly now.

Stifle Me Not

Getting Through the Red Flags

Earlier today I read the phrase “get through it to get past it”.

What true words.

After my much-needed energy reset, I reactivated my dating app (without high hopes), telling myself I’d keep it active until the subscription ends in a couple weeks.

A couple of guys liked my profile and I didn’t interact. Then one guy liked my profile, and we started texting. It started out promising (as many do) and it took a nosedive into the deep end. This guy was red flag city. I completely knew I wasn’t going to date this guy, let alone ever meet him in person, but I hung in there for a little bit. I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t running for the hills. I felt bad for him a little bit I guess.

My inner me was lecturing me about how I shouldn’t feel bad for people, I need to just focus on myself. This guy asked me early on, if I’m not interested in him, if I would just give him feedback as to why not rather than ghost him. Fair enough. However, that was more than I bargained for because this guy was a giant ball of baggage. He also somewhat reminded me of me x 10 a few years ago – maybe that’s why I hung in there, because I was in his shoes once.

Some of his red flags were:

  • He had an overall negative outlook on life.
  • He called his ex bad names when he referred to her. (I hardly expected to read C U Next Tuesday in one of his texts, but I did, I so did).
  • He didn’t socialize. I asked if he was anti-social or what – he said he didn’t care for people, they exhausted him.
  • He never left his home to shop or go to dinner or anything.
  • He didn’t know how to cook.
  • He didn’t work out.
  • He said he was broke (because of his ex) and that he lived in a cheap apartment with an old car.
  • He has cats (I’m very allergic to cats).

There wasn’t a glimmer of hope with this guy.

Women usually want some form of safety, security, and/or fun. He was none of those things. It’s not like he was just bad for me, I don’t think he’d be good for any healthy woman right now.

I felt like I owed him a constructive response, but man it was tempting to ghost him. It took me awhile to craft something that was direct yet easy to digest. I didn’t want to damage the guy further, but he needed some real honestly or he’d destined to hermit in his cheap apartment for the rest of his angry life.

He thanked me for the honest response and offered to stay in touch as friends. I said sure. He said he’d been single for 5 years and he thought that would be enough time for him to heal. I had the phrase in mind that I saw earlier, “get through it to get past it”, as I gave him the feedback. I didn’t use those exact words, but was hoping he understood he was trying to skip the “getting through it” part. He was hiding instead. If I hear from him down the road, I hope he finds a little self love. Maybe at least learns how to cook something.

I deactivated my dating app again – I can’t seem to make it to the end of this subscription. I’m glad I made a new texting friend, but the holidays are coming. Holidays and dating sound like a brutal combination. I think I will make it just fine, it’s the guys that come through that I’m worried about. I’m still “getting through it” myself some days, but things get clearer everyday and I feel more past my old crap than I ever have. I think I’ll finish out this year enjoying each day as it comes. I have some Christmas cheer to spread damnit.

Stifle Me Not

Let the Dating Chapter Begin…

The dating chapter has begun.

In mid-April, I flipped the switch on a dating app and by the next weekend I was out on a first date. To my surprise, that first date has led to many other dates with the same guy. I already deleted the dating app, and so has he. And this is all so very eerily… comfortable? I thought I’d either end up on a dating spree, or I’d have one or two bad dates, get discouraged, and take a break from the app immediately. I did take a break from the app, but not for the reasons I thought I would.

This guy is very normal, and kind, and attractive, and hard-working. He is ALL the things I’d list out if I had to. I actually really like him. And he likes me. And it all seems so…dare I say, easy? My mind has been in overdrive “what’s-the-catch” mode for weeks now. I’m beginning to realize that maybe there is no catch. I’ve put in the self-work and so has he. We’ve both had our ups and downs (and down downs), and we’ve learned and grown. Now we’re getting to know each other. And it’s refreshingly nice to just get to know someone and not be afraid of their expectations of me.

I tip-toed on eggshells for so long with my ex, that being around a nice man (who isn’t intent on manipulating me) is a strange (but good) place for me to be in.

I didn’t realize what a dark place I was in until I arrived to this lighter place in my life. I didn’t fathom someone would like me just for me and not just for what I could do for them. It’s all so sad really. I’ve left the dark place, but it still haunts me. I don’t want to go back there. I don’t want to be anxious about it. I’m trying to just enjoy the here and now.

There’s no guarantees with how this new relationship will turn out, but for it now it feels like a nice change from the last three and a half years. I’m curious about the journey, and look forward to it.

Stifle Me Not

Forever Thankful

Today was a typical Thanksgiving in my family. My stepmom and my dad buy all the food, do all the meal prep, and cook everything. I stay on stand-by to help where I can, chopping up vegetables for the veggie tray, setting the table, and getting last minute things done before visitors arrive. In between, I try to distract my 4 year old with toys and cartoons and fend off the attitude of the 10 year old.

The parents like to do the cooking, and so they do. I could do it. I have done it in the past. But for now, I will just relish the fact that they are here and healthy and doing what they love to do, even if it wears them out. This is how they show their love. I just clean as many dishes as I can at the end of the day.

Last weekend, a close family friend passed away. She was in her mid-50s, had cancer, and is one of the most memorable people I’ve encountered in my life. She was very real, and very giving. I know my parents are hurting. She is the 4th person close to this family to have passed away in the past year since I’ve been living here. I feel like it’s been an ongoing grief train around here. It’s all so sad, yet it makes you stop and think, and appreciate life much more. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.

And with that, I look at my life and I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I’m proud that I’ve advanced my career so much this year, and I’m doing well with raising my kids, and I’m healthy. Tonight, I was looking at some past photos I had posted online from about 6 years ago. Originally, I just wanted to see how much my little girl has grown and wanted to soak in the memories of when she was little, but a flood of anxiety washed over me with each photo I encountered with my ex-husband in them. We “looked” so happy, and he “looked” sincere, and I was there and feel like it was an out of body experience that I was ever in that space at that time trusting that man. Knowing what I know now and the timeline of his infidelity, I became disgusted by each smiling photo of us. Of course I didn’t know then. But I did. Deep down I knew something wasn’t right, and even when I spoke up, I backed down in doubt of myself if the conflict I faced from him was too great. He didn’t beat me, he didn’t even directly verbally abuse me, he just manipulated each opportunity he had to ensure I doubted myself in his favor. And it worked.

I am thankful today that I have faced my self-doubt and anxiety over the years, and I’ve stopped giving my power away. With all the death that has happened this year, the best death of all was that of my self-doubt. Death makes you appreciate life; however, in life many fear death. I am forever thankful for this life and intend to live it using the gifts and talents that I know I have. The woman that passed away last week, she used to enter a room like a bright ray of sunshine. She owned who she was and she positively influenced others around her. I can still feel her energy and hear her voice – she was so sincere.

I want to raise my kids to know this lesson I’ve learned as a basic life truth. Self-doubt is destructive to the life we want. It is a silent killer of the sweetness of life.

I’ve slowly become my own ray of sunshine. It has taken weeks, months, years, but I’m living in my own best interest these days and it feels good. I’m forever thankful that I’m in a better place this November than last year. I can’t wait to see what next year brings.

Stifle Me Not

Falling Forward

And just like the wheel is turning forward again. More baby steps into the great unknown…

I gave myself until November 1st to have a down payment ready for a house. After saving my butt off for the past two months, and venting to my sister that I can’t wait for time to speed up one night, she graciously offered me a “gift” of the rest of my down payment (and that I can pay her back as it makes sense).

Uh, what? Just like that my little sis is ready to write me a check. I would have never asked her for money like that ever. She’s the little sister. I’m the big sister. I hinted at it to my mom, and to my dad, but they didn’t bite…but I was simply whining to her, not asking for a hand out.

I took it, with full intention of continuing to save my butt off so that I can pay her back sooner than later. And just like that I was pre-approved this weekend to buy my own adult house.

The house hunting has yet to begin. That likely starts this weekend. I’m full of all kinds of emotions – excited for sure, a little scared (I’ve never owned a home on my own), and just a tiny bit anxious about the market and the pressure and the stress. I’m in a good place with my stress level in life. I want this to be good stress. I don’t want to settle. I want to make a good decision for me and my kids. I’ve been “homeless” (okay, a 40-year old living with her parents) for the past 1 year and 1 month. The time has come.

I’ve come so far. I can’t give up now. “Life’s a journey, not a destination”… yea yea, I know, but getting a nice cozy comfortable home where I can be me (and my kids can be them) is somewhat of a destination for me. It’s a destination of a new beginning. It’ll be proof to myself that I broke the cycle of bad decisions (or lack thereof) and that I’ll be living for myself, finally.

It’s the first day of fall, and I’m falling forward… It’s my own movement that will take me to where I need to be.

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.

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

 

 

Now What?

I have been awake for 2 hours now. It’s 4 AM. Full moons mess with my sleep.

I had a very anti-climatic day.

I finally, FINALLY signed my dissolution papers. He finally signed the agreement earlier in the week and I had a day off to trek to my lawyer’s office to sign my part. It was the easiest 10 minutes of my life. It’s hard to believe that the journey started 1.5 years ago.

I thought I’d be sad or something afterward. I kept waiting for some flood of emotions to hit me. I drove up, heard all the right songs on my playlist during the drive, walked right in and signed the papers, and then went and got some lunch. No regret. No sadness. No nothing.

Now I wait. Hurry up, and wait. Hurry up, wait.

Story. Of. My. Life. Lately.

I have to get my case number to take a parenting class. Because that really helps my kids the past 1.5 years with their uprooted lives. Luckily we’ve kept it civil around them, and I’ve learned to shut it down before it starts if an issue starts escalating. It’s just not worth it. I witnessed too many emotional outbursts and hurtful words during my own parents’ divorce. I wasn’t about to let it get to that level. Too bad the county couldn’t offered credit for that real-life experience.

I think my kids are in a happy place right now. I’m sure they would love to have us together all the time, but they are doing well in school and have smiles on their faces more often than not.

So I have to take a parenting class and wait for the court date. It has to be within 90 days, so I guess I can look forward to being free and changing back to my maiden name before the end of summer.

Now I find myself in a state of “Now what?”

Weird. I waited so long just for him to agree and now I’m disrupted by the change of being out of that rut.

I feel, like, hopeful.

Stifle Me Not

 

 

Door Closed, Next Please

Okay. I’m paying attention. If there was ever a time when I was clear, it is now.

Sometimes when you try too hard for something for too long, there must be a reason. It may seem completely ridiculous, but there MUST be a reason.

While others may have seen this long ago, I’m just now figuring it out for myself. Why? Because I’m stubborn. I do not give up easily, and apparently this past year has been one big hard lesson about how I can try all I want, but there are going to be stops around every corner just to, well, stop me… from myself.

I was laid off last February 2018. It has now been well over a year and I have tried everything in my power (well, I did at first and then I slowed down out of shear exhaustion) to try to get a job where my old home was, closer to my kid’s dad. The only job I have been able to get is the part-time gig  in my childhood hometown. This job I have now  is affording me the opportunity to make ends meet and keep my wits about me with two kids. My head is currently above water. I’m not drowning – I’m certainly not floating around in the sunshine with a cocktail on a floaty, but I’m not drowning, and for that I am thankful.

My eyes were opened a little more in the past month when I tried for yet another job closer to my ex. It was a county job, so it required two rounds of civil servicing testing before even getting to the interview part. I passed both rounds and made the list. Then I was invited for an interview. Over the past month I had been reading different articles about the organization that weren’t very favorable. I continued anyway – the promise of a stable salary kept me going. I then read something about the head of their HR team that wasn’t too great. I had the feeling of not wanting to go further each time the process progressed. I did anyway. Because that’s what I do. Then I made the list. I was the last one on the list, just barely making the cut. I felt accomplished that I made it that far, but hesitant that I could really go all the way. Finally came the biggest clue – the interview invite provided more information about the reality of the job. They had disguised the job as an attractive management job, when in reality it was a very gritty and unfavorable job. I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty, but working for an organization that has obvious clues of corruption and then discovering it’s recruiting process is a lie is where I draw the line.

I declined to go to the interview. I removed myself from the list. Once again, getting a job in that area, although it was my own choice this time, was not a reality. And who’s to say I would’ve made it through the interview process? Maybe I would’ve been stopped again. But realizing that I had a really good chance this time, and that I might have had some control in the decision gave me the power to opt out. The idea of actually getting the job and starting over again where I had finally broken free from was overwhelming.

I’m no longer moving forward with purpose of relocating to make it easier to exchange children with my ex for visitations. We’re all doing just fine as is. It’s a little frustrating sometimes, but it’s working. And I need to focus on my career for  me, not for making anything easier for him and saying it’s just making it easier for the kids. My kids are seriously doing great. It took me a year to realize that. It took me a year to realize that all of these big stops, and all of this waiting, are for my own good. If I found another job and moved closer to my ex, I would have no family support and be at the bottom of a wine bottle more frequently than not.

Letting go of an old normal is hard, but necessary. I have no freakin’ clue what is next. But I’m going to take my next steps for me. Gosh, what the heck? Why is this such a foreign concept to me? I feel like I just wiped the sleep from my eyes and cleaned my glasses all at the same time. I woke up. Now I have to decide what to wear, for my own comfort, not to impress anyone else.

Another lesson learned. Can I have my key to the next door now?

Stifle Me Not, Me

Hurry Up and Wait

I’ve been hurrying up and waiting my entire life. And this week feels like the longest waiting ever. I’m waiting for signatures to start the clock ticking forward.

Once my dissolution paperwork is signed by my almost-ex-husband, I feel like I’ll need to hustle. We talked, made some verbal agreements (or so I think, you never know with him), and now I’m waiting for his lawyer to return from vacation to finalize some things.

I’ve been hiding out at my parents house, taking care of my kids, in a part-time job for the past 7 months. I can’t stay here forever, nor do I want to. I feel like everything is up in the air. I do not feel settled. I want some stability and to feel settled. I don’t even care where, I just want to have a place that I call home for the long haul and where I have set doctors and schools and stores and restaurants and people that I know. I have that here and I have that where my last home was, but making any future plans these days is a pain in the ass.

I succumbed to getting a pediatrician and a dentist in my new temporary mode of living. I do not have a doctor. I do not know if I should register my kids for their current schools for next year or not. I do not know if I should look for a house or apartment in one area or another. So I move forward while waiting. I’ve registered them for their schools and I live like I live here permanently, but the back of my head always has a “what if”.

If, last Fall, you would’ve asked me if I would be in the state of living in waiting still this Spring, I would’ve laughed and said hell no.

Yet here I am. I’ve stood my ground on what I want in the dissolution paperwork and I just need signatures. You’d think that the career progression wouldn’t be related at all to my marriage, but it is. I’ve seen the first hand how each time I set a boundary with my almost-ex that my career encounters a new positive opportunity. I don’t know if this is some sick game the universe is playing or if I made that up in my head and it just seems to be working out that way.

This week I’m moving on in the second round of a job opportunity. It is near my old home an hour away. It’s a good opportunity with benefits and long term potential. It’s closer to my ex, which is great for my kids well-being, but it’s farther from my family, which may not be the best for my own well-being. They are my support system. If I move with the kids back to being closer to their dad, I have no support system.

I’ve been really working on myself these days with setting boundaries and not trying to make decisions involving others in spite of myself, but when it comes to my kids, obviously I want what is best for them. But I realized the other day though that they’re actually really doing great. They don’t see their dad daily, but we do our best to accommodate each other’s schedules, even at a distance, and they seem to be happy and healthy and thriving. They both love their schools. They are sleeping soundly and wake up with smiles on their faces. They are loving and they are loved.

So I don’t think I can really make a bad decision. I get hung up on what if this happens or that happens and OMG, yes, what if??? Guess what, the worst has already happened (okay, no one died, but close enough). My marriage and career died all in the same year and I’m still standing. It can only get better from here, right?

Stifle Me Not