Category Archives: Healing

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

Withdrawal from My Old Motivation

It’s like I was super hooked on a drug and I’m still having withdrawal. I don’t even want the drug anymore, I was just used to it. It was my way of living. It became who I am, and so I just accepted my life that way. Now I’m lost and confused and lonely, and even though I don’t want that drug anymore, I’m not quite sure what else to do.

I’ve never been on drugs before, but I know reason for dependency on a substance is to go after the feeling that the drug gives you.

At first, I was going to make this analogy about my almost ex-husband. Then I realized it applies to my career. But I really think it applies overall to the way I’ve been feeling, or wanting to feel, for the last 15 years.

I have been a hooked on a feeling. A fleeting feeling.

I am driven not by who I am, or what I really want, but what I can do for people. I have been caught up in the stress of imbalance between doing what is best for myself and using that energy to make others happy – in my marriage, in my career, and even when I was a little kid.

I have been hooked on doing well in life to help others, to make others happy and proud. I went to college, I acquired skills, and I have always done well at nearly everything that I do in my career. The same thing in my marriage. I paid attention and strove to be the best wife I knew how to be for my husband (no matter how much he’ll say that I did not). If he wasn’t happy, I’d overcompensate or corrected my behavior the best I knew how. We wouldn’t fail, we would prevail despite the bills and the stress of raising a family. I could make this work. “I”.

I am of the “pleaser” variety. I get honest joy out of making others happy. It’s not bullshit, I’m not making it up. I didn’t fully realize the extent to which I like this until it was too late and I had served so many others in spite of myself.

I have served others in spite of myself.

And I lacked the boundaries to look out for my own well-being.

Others do not question it. Why shouldn’t they? They aren’t responsible for my boundaries. I am nice. Nice, and smart, and oh wait, I’m pretty too. I’m “perfect”. I take these compliments and I accept them because I like feeling like I did something good and I helped someone else. I like the approval, even if it doesn’t last long.

It feels strange getting to know this person that I am in this 39-year old body. I start to have regrets about what I could’ve done, should’ve done, would’ve done in my 20s or early 30s… but I’m recognizing the same “mistakes” in others as I’ve made. Who’s to say it’s a mistake? I’m the only one saying that. I’m trying not to beat myself up and label everything I did or didn’t do that led me to this place as a mistake… because at the end of the day, I’m learning from it.

If you learn from it, it’s not a mistake. It’s a lesson. Learn, move on, and do something different the next time is what I keep telling myself.

So here I am, having an eerily similar feeling to when I was 18 and first on my own at college. I didn’t know who I was – I was just out in the world trying to “make it”. However I’ve learned that if you don’t recognize your own wants and needs, your own purpose, you can wander aimlessly and stumble into serving the purposes of others instead of your own. That happened to me. I let that happen.

I’ve been cautiously taking each step like its the first time. I’m paying attention to my feelings. MY feelings. I’m trying not to discount the reason for my feelings – that is what they are for. If I begin to feel similar to before and don’t like it (fearful, anxious, unhappy, etc.), I’m trying to take a new direction… set a boundary – even if that means straying from the comfort of known territory. What I once was is no more – I can’t be that person anymore or I will be miserable. I can’t use those drugs, the happiness of pleasing others can’t be my reason for existence. I have to find what makes me want to live on my own without pleasing others as my primary motivation.

I’m searching for my new motivation. I buried it within me long ago and it’s just taking time to emerge. I suppose it will surface when I’m ready.

Stifle Me Not

 

Hibernating, Healing, and Making Slow Progress

I’ve been really trying to focus on my own well-being these days. I feel like I’m hibernating, and healing in the process. Its funny how, until you’re out of a certain situation, you’re so unaware of the reality of your life. It’s not really funny, it’s more sad and unfortunate.

I’ve felt so good lately, and been having so many realizations of what my old life was like – I’m amazed that I ever lived that life.

I can’t believe how suppressed and disillusioned I was in my marriage, especially now after being out of my old home for months. I only see my ex when we exchange the kids for visitation. Even though I kicked him out over a year ago, I still saw him regularly because he lived nearby. I didn’t realize how damaging his frequent presence was. Being farther away from him has done my mental and emotional well-being a world of good.

I have come to realize that in the past, every action or inaction of mine was so fear-based. I wasn’t afraid of being hit or scolded. I was never beaten or screamed at. It was quite the opposite. I was seemingly showered with love and affection and allowed to have all the freedom that I wanted…yet, I never felt free to be my own person.

Why? What was I afraid of?

I was apparently afraid of disapproval and ultimately not feeling “good enough”. Not pleasing him in the littlest way would cause me to overcompensate in any one area. It’s hard to explain without examples, so the example that is top of mind was my weekly grocery trip (aka my weekly energy zap), followed by alleged accusations of me being uncaring and having complete disregard for what my ex liked.

The Weekly Energy Zap

Each weekend, I would make a grocery list and go to the grocery store. My goals would be to: 1. Buy healthy meals for the week (and try to save money), 2. Get anything extra that he or the kids needed (wanted), and 3. Make sure I wasn’t gone too long or he would be mad when I got home.

I would happily drive to the store and navigate the crowd on a Sunday afternoon. Grocery shopping on any weekend afternoon is just a bad idea if time is a priority for you, however, that was the only time I had without kids. While shopping, I’d often get calls or texts from him about the kids’ behavior, or a reminder to pick up something else that wasn’t on my list. Fine, great, got it. I’d get stuck behind a slow-poke in several aisles, or have to wait in the dreaded deli line. Without fail, almost every time, I’d get a text while in the checkout lane – “how much longer”?

I’d get home and unload the groceries and balance the impatience of my children. Sometimes he would help unload the car, sometimes he wouldn’t budge from the couch or the video game he was playing. I would sometimes spend $250 for a week’s worth of groceries and he would ask “Did you get my iced tea?” (even though I just bought four other kinds of requested beverages).

When I first didn’t buy the tea, I didn’t think much of it. “Sorry, I forgot.” I didn’t think I was some worthless slug wife that can’t do a simple request for her dear husband. I was unfazed. I just worked a 50-hour week, cared for kids, cleaned the house, and just bought lots of food to feed our family. I was amazing. I was handling life.

It was bit-by-bit and day-by-day as the years went on that I became a puppet.

He would be disappointed about the tea, but he wouldn’t chastise me or get mad in any way. He would simply make it a point to buy the tea that week. He would save this tea example for weeks or months or years down the road to illustrate how much I don’t pay attention to him. The next time I went to the store, I made sure to buy more damn tea. From then forward, I always bought the tea.

One time I accidentally bought diet tea. He didn’t criticize me (too bad), but he again made sure to get his own regular tea and let me know how it tastes different from diet. He would even drink the diet so it wasn’t wasted. What a guy! He would even drink the diet tea. He’s so flexible. He’s so patient with his apparently brain-dead wife who can’t read tea labels.

I wasn’t beaten, but I was invisibly controlled and manipulated. And I allowed myself to be trapped. I allowed the opinions and perceptions of my spouse to impact my self-worth. Example after example would go into his mental database of ways in which I don’t care about him. And before I knew it, I was keeping my own mental database of how unworthy I was. It was a classic case of him projecting onto me, and I absorbed it all. I was like a sponge that soaked up much of what he spilled.

My self-worth became a dirty wet moldy sponge.

I don’t think much of what he projected was intentionally planned, and I creatively learned how to make excuses for him rather than ask myself how healthy it was to live that way.

This one example may not seem so bad. And to me, at the time, it wasn’t bad at all. It just was what it was. It’s the sum of the parts that made the overall whole so detrimental to me.

Hibernating to Survive

In nature, animals hibernate to survive. The purpose is to reserve energy when food is scarce.

I’m hibernating to survive. To heal. I’m working part-time so that I have energy left for my kids. I’m getting sleep. I’m learning to consider myself when I make decisions. I’m like a toddler figuring myself out.

This hibernation phase of my life has been invaluable. It’s opened my eyes big and wide to learn from the past rather than let me be a victim from it. Manipulation by others is so damaging if you don’t keep your own well-being in check. Whether a person intentionally manipulates you or not, it can happen so subtly; you don’t even realize it’s happening. Typically, if someone is manipulative, they have their own underlying reasons for why they behave that way.

I certainly have more healing to do. The real test will be if I encounter another person that spills ongoing sludge. Will I absorb it or speak up loudly and clearly and not make excuses? I certainly I hope I choose myself if that happens again.

Until then, I am peacefully resting and restoring my energy.

Stifle Me Not