Category Archives: Honesty

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

 

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

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

 

Encounter with an Honest Car Salesman

I went to a car dealership today to try to trade in my car and downsize to something simpler. Downsize the payment, downsize the gas consumption, and just downsize another piece of my life to make it a little bit easier.

I walked into the dealership and shook hands with an older gentleman, who immediately informed me that he had been working there for 15 years and he had been in this line of work for 33 years. He asked for my name, asked if I had ever purchased a car there before (I had), and he looked up the salesperson that had previously helped me at that dealership 12 years ago.

I cringed. That salesperson was still there. I remember salesperson #1 very well because he did not show me the level of respect that he should have. At the time, I was looking to purchase a brand new car and my boyfriend (my now husband) was with me, and he had no part in the purchase of the car. He was just there to be with me. Salesperson #1 kept directing any conversation about the car and finances toward my boyfriend. My boyfriend even said “I am not paying for this car at all, it’s all her.” And he just kept talking to “the man”.

Salesperson #1 kept me waiting for long periods of time while he would go into the back to “check on something” with numbers. He tried to tell me that my payment would have to be one amount when I definitely knew that it was higher than it needed to be. I finally told him I would have to switch to a lower priced model or look elsewhere. He came around and got me into the car that I wanted for the price that I wanted. I have not been a fan of car shopping since then.

Salesperson #1 was not impossible, but he was a challenge. Car salesmen have a reputation for a reason, right? And he seemed to live up to the stereotype. But today, I was not walking into the dealership with a big fight in me. I just wanted to simplify things.

Luckily, salesperson #1 was not available. I was so relieved that I was going to stick with salesperson #2.

I immediately informed salesperson #2 that I wasn’t sure if we could make a deal work today due to the negative equity on my car. I did my homework in advance and handed him all of the numbers. He was impressed. I told him I didn’t want to waste his time, and I’d appreciate if he could just be up front with me if he couldn’t get it to work out right now.

We chatted as he entered numbers into the computer. He was a jovial guy. He put a list of used cars in front of me and started to using some selling techniques as I browsed the list. Before moving forward, I reiterated that I thought the negative equity could be an issue and agreed to get my car appraised before going any further in the process.

He left to have my car appraised, but he wasn’t gone long enough for it to have happened. He returned about two minutes later and flopped the keys down on the table as he spewed honest facts and figures and he had sad eyes. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear.

It took me a minute to realize that he was  doing exactly as I had asked. He couldn’t make it work, so he wasn’t wasting time with the appraisal, he knew what the outcome would be after all of his experience and the numbers I had given him.  The negative equity would be a problem.

I shook his hand and thanked him. It didn’t work out the way that I hoped, but I still have my nice car that I wasn’t excited about parting with right now. I also still have a hefty monthly payment (sigh).

I drove away numb and wondering why I couldn’t make this one thing work, but very appreciative that he spared me hours of sitting in the dealership (like I’ve done in the past) only to have the same outcome. All I could think is that maybe there is a reason and it’s just not obvious yet. Or maybe there’s no reason at all. Maybe sometimes things just don’t work out.

What I did learn today is that I encountered an honest car salesmen. I asked for honesty and he gave it to me. That doesn’t mean I had to like it.

Stifle Me Not

May 31st Lesson: Honesty is the Best Policy

It’s the last day of the “What Did I Learn Today?” Challenge for May. I started reflecting on daily lessons learned to give me something to do each evening, instead of wallowing in self-pity and beer. Okay, I didn’t drink too much beer. More tears than beer.

I did the two things I said I was going to do: I reflected on my day, and I was honest about what I learned. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from this entire month is that doing this wasn’t easy, but it is possible and it helped me be more self-aware.

Being honest with myself was a big reality check. There were nights after I put my kids to bed that I did not want to think about anything. Or I was thinking about too much at once. Many times I just wanted to journal about my day, complain about my soon-to-be-ex-husband, and whine about being unemployed. But how much value would that have added? It took some effort to see my days for what they really were and recognize what was impacting me the most each day. I had to be honest with my damn feelings.

Damn feelings.

I’m still going to keep it going, maybe not every single day, but there will be more reflecting and honesty with thy self. Learning is the key to growth. I’m in this little life pickle because of the choices I’ve made and because of the choices I’ve avoided.

Be super honest with yourself. Its easier said than done.

Stifle Me Not