Optimist.

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There are days I still struggle. I am definitely not a bitter person, but there are times where I feel a little bitterness creep into me. It sinks in deep, into my bones, and just infects my mind and body.

After having a happily hectic weekend with the kids, which was amazingly productive but exhausting, I realized that I was only so happy because it was hectic. It was so hectic, it allowed me to temporarily forget the stuff that has been plaguing my thoughts, as of late. This lead to me the realization that I needed to work on those issues instead of just putting a Band Aid of being so busy I didn’t have to think about them.

In life, it’s easy to not deal with situations or issues. It’s easy to either avoid them or just go on, pretending they never happened or aren’t looming in the air; but they still are. It’s like the 5,000 pound gorilla in the room that no one talks about – and it’s sitting on my chest at the moment, staring me in the eyes.

Not every one looks at life the same as me. I think it mostly goes back to the influence of my dad. He had lots of -isms he would say to me that I still think about today when I’m going through life.

Even though when I was younger, these saying would occasionally get on my nerves (mainly because my dad was right), as an adult I now keep these in mind:

“Is this a hill you want to die on?”  Is the problem big enough that it’s worth upsetting the other person? Is the problem (and the person) worth expending the energy to fix it, or will it be a waste of time – either because the friendship/relationship isn’t worth it or you know the other person is 100% unwilling to listen or compromise? Does the problem hurt the other person somehow (which would be the ultimate test, because if it does, my dad would say, you have a moral obligation to discuss it)? Does the problem greatly affect you in such a way that it needs to be addressed for your own well being?

“It’s not always what you say, but how you say it.” Oh my, how true this one is. By how you say it, it’s the inflection in your voice, your body language, and your facial expressions. Those were the main things my dad was implying to me when he’d say that. What I’ve found now is that it’s not only those cues, but also your choice of words. Choice of words can be so difficult because everyone’s meaning of words can be slightly different. A funny example of this is a conversation between The Boyfriend and me. I was talking about some past discussion between us and I said something about him yelling at me. He got a little defensive at this point and said he didn’t yell. Before I went off and started to rehash the conversation (which didn’t need to be done, so thankfully I stopped myself) I recalled what a stickler for words he is. He has his own certain associations with specific phrases, which since we’ve been together so long I know this about him, so I changed it to raising his voice. He was okay with that. Inside, I was immensely frustrated that a simple conversation had to be stopped because of, what I perceived as semantics, but since it wasn’t a “hill I wanted to die on” I simply turned it into a laughable discussion of the differences in communication between us. It wasn’t the meaning of the sentence that ruffled his feathers, it was how I said it. The context was still the same whether I said yell or raised his voice.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff…and it’s all small stuff.” My dad used to tell me this and it would make me want to blow my stack. LOL! From time to time now, it still does. It’s true though. Even the stuff that seems like big stuff, in reality, it’s really just small stuff because you always have a choice on how you live it. You choose what you allow into your life. The big stuff, the stuff that messes with your mind and works on your self-esteem, you can almost always eliminate if it’s not a hill you want to die on. Plus, if a problem is that big that it can’t be fixed, it likely needs to be eliminated anyway.

Life is full of choices. There is always an option and very few definites. For instance, over a year ago, I had told The Boyfriend that since we had finally decided to move in together, and because with my kids I am missing out on so much being gone every other weekend, it needed to happen by September of this year. I was so happy and focused with that decision because it would finally put an end to the back and forth, it would give us both an actual support system at home full-time (instead of just over the phone, which just isn’t working anymore), and it would finally allow our relationship to continue to grow. However, by September he was not ready. I had the choice of no longer traveling, taking that part of my life that soaked up 8+ hours on a weekend I had off from the kids, delaying a ton of housework and also delaying my school time OR I could continue a relationship with him, choosing to let him keep his life where it was (for the time being) until he was better prepared to move. I chose him. I looked where my priorities were, I looked where my emotions were, and he was the better option. I could maintain the stress (at that point, at least) of the travel, of having to drag my kids out every other weekend very late at night, of hindering their ability to have friends spend the night Friday night (and Saturdays are not an option due to a lovely 8am mass time), and the stress of essentially putting my social life and academic life on hold, for him. That was a choice, there is no way he could have forced me to do it.

Ownership. Ownership of my actions, ownership of my decisions (good and bad), ownership of what life hands me, and realizing that I have a choice in it all – that’s  my personal outlook on life which allows me to stay an optimist. I will not blame others for my circumstances, rather realize that I have the choice and decision to change them.

So, today, life is good. You know what? I have a feeling that tomorrow will be even better.

Effort.

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Sometimes, you have to make an effort. You can’t just live your life, expecting everyone else to accept your issues and your faults and for them to completely re-vamp their life to be focused on just fixing you. Sometime, you need to fix yourself. Sometimes, you have to put others feelings over your own and do the right thing for them, even when it’s difficult for you.

Sometimes, I need to take time and figure out if people are actually capable of respecting what I need, in addition to their own needs.

Just a random thought after a dark, difficult week.

Wounds Worth Working On. Some Are Not.

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Sometimes you can have such deep scars from an event in the past that they haunt you. You can move past them and feel better, but as soon as those parts of you are awakened again, you realize they are still there.

I’ve been in a bad place, recently, with my own self esteem. Some of these are my own issues, others have been brought on by things that have come up with The Boyfriend, and the remainder is stuff in dealing with EX. The problem I’m running into is that it won’t do any good for me to work on me, until I can alleviate the other two.

With my scars, I have a problem deciphering when I’m hurt and should be hurt versus when I’m hurt because of the past. I don’t know when certain things happen if I should stick around to hopefully work it out (or try and talk through things with EX) or if I am becoming an enabler for their bad behavior – which makes me feel worse about it. I won’t lie, there are times where I just feel like avoiding it all and just say “f*ck it, I’m going to work on me without you”, but I can’t do that for two reasons. Number one: I love The Boyfriend a great deal and I’m not sure that’s the fair thing for me to do. Number two: I can’t avoid EX and successfully co-parent, so I’m kind of stuck with him as well.

I feel confident on my own, which is what sometimes makes me think I’d be better off that way. I don’t feel confident when around certain behaviors though – the ones that make me feel like I’m less of a person. The ones that seem to just trounce on my heart, on my very being of who I am.

Yet, because I am keenly aware of these scars and where they came from, I am un-trusting of my own heart still, at times. I know what it’s capable of – completely enabling bad behavior and addiction. I also know it’s capable of pulling away out of the fear of being an enabler. So, as you can see, I’m stuck in a damned if you do and damned if you don’t battle in my head.

I know I can’t spend the rest of my life, running from the things that poke at these scars…but I also can’t spend my life trying to fix or deal with people who poke at them.

Which leads me to the topic of my brother’s wife. She is still a thorn in my side that just won’t forgive me for whatever it is I’ve done. She has given me no explanation, no reason for her disdain, and no hint on what brought it on so suddenly (except for the fact that it coincided with my divorce). What’s worse is that after my mom started standing up for me, she turned her back on her as well. That one shocked me; how someone could just try and shut out their own mother-in-law in a family as close as mine.

Certain days I feel so well and other days I realize what a work in progress I really still am. Aren’t we all.

10. Soulmates.

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Extraordinary. Extra-Ordinary. Extra: Added, Additional, Over and Above, More, Further. Give me all that above the ordinary and that’s how I want my marriage to be.

I was just barely 22 when I got married the first time. I didn’t have a good grasp on life, I didn’t have a good grasp on myself, and I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who just happens to meet and marry the right person to grow into those first two things.

ex·traor·di·nary

adjective \ik-ˈstrr-də-ˌner-ē, ˌek-strə-ˈr-\

: very unusual : very different from what is normal or ordinary

Full Definition of EXTRAORDINARY:

a :  going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary <extraordinary powers>

b :  exceptional to a very marked extent <extraordinary beauty>

I want that kind of marriage. I want the kind where two people are so committed to making it work that they will work through all the small muck for that ultimate goal.

The Boyfriend is very extraordinary in certain ways. He listens to me – and I don’t mean in that “uh huh, yeah honey” kind of way, I mean in general he really listens. Even my complaints…even when they are directed at him. They aren’t always easy for him to hear, sometimes his feelings are hurt initially, but he really thinks about the things I say to him, he takes them to heart, and if he thinks I’m right, he will actually tell me so and then we can compromise or work on whatever the issue is. He’s done this is so many ways with me already, it’s very hard when we reach times that he’s unable to do that – go above and beyond to meet me half way. It doesn’t happen very often where he’ll totally ignore something that’s bothering me, even after I tell him. Other times, he’ll ignore it the first few times I bring it up (more out of being embarrassed, I think), but he eventually comes around and will truly listen to me. That is such a rare quality in a partner – to not only recognize when their significant other is hurting, but be able to accept that something they are doing is possibly causing it and immediately agree to work on it or compromise…then actually follow through.

I definitely see that quality as a quality my soulmate should possess. In return, I hope it’s a quality that I give in return.

My recent revelation that I know for sure I want to get married again was pretty big for me. However, this time I want to be sure it’s going to be an extraordinary marriage. I don’t want “happy enough” or “we get along mostly”. I want stars. I want someone that I can understand completely (even if it takes a lifetime to) and who will understand me that way as well. I need someone who loves me even with my odd hang ups and who will appreciate that some of the things that eat at me are not their fault, rather the issues left behind from others. I want someone that will look at that and do whatever they can to make some of those scars of infidelity, mis-trust, and abuse, disappear…even when it’s not something they think needs to be compromised on, rather they can see I need it. I’ve always tried to be this way in relationships. I definitely am with The Boyfriend. I have made some adjustments in the way I communicate, so that things are easier for him to hear. I’ve changed how I approach him and the words I use, to help soothe some of the things said and done to him in his past. With the exception of a few topics that we are currently working on (which I hope will be like those items it just takes us a bit longer to compromise). Before I’ll commit to marriage with anyone though, I want to make sure it’s that special knock-your-socks off kind of love where there is a higher appreciation of each other than just the normal kind of love. I want my best friend, my greatest lover, my partner in crime, the one who will understand what I mean by “sex starts in the kitchen” and live that with me, and be my husband all rolled into one. When I know I’ve found that for sure, I will say “I do”.

9. Loyalty.

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This is in reference to my blog entry http://goshthisdivorce.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/sit-wait-contemplate/.

In a time where selfishness seems to be the rule, instead of the bad exception in people, and most people are just out for personal gain in their relationships, it’s very difficult to trust and feel comfortable with the idea of someone being loyal to you.

To me, loyalty encompasses so much. It boils down to doing the right thing for the person you are in a relationship to the same extent you do the right thing for yourself. It’s not in a narrow scope either – it means for everything.

Loyalty is being faithful, not just in body but also in thoughts and actions. In this day and age of social media, instant access to news and personal details about celebrities lives, and the availability of sites to “hook up” with – this can be difficult for some (although if it’s difficult for you, it makes it easier for me to weed out and pull away from those types – so that’s good). You have to respect yourself and your own actions before you can ever be loyal to another person. Loyalty is always having someone’s back – and not just in defending them to other people, but also in respecting that person. That’s where I’ve found people fail the most – respecting the other person. We are quick to jump if we feel like we are being forced in one direction or another and don’t want our toes stepped on, but we don’t give a second thought to how our own actions may be affecting someone else.

Honesty is key in loyalty. If you aren’t being totally honest, you aren’t being loyal to that person because you are not working in their best interests.

It’s funny how I’m finding so many of these tie into one another. I used to think “well, if I could get at least 9 out of 10 – I’m set”. However, in writing all of this out, I’m seeing that, for me, it’s an all or nothing. That’s a pretty high standard and not one I’m sure I’ve found just yet.

I’m Sorry.

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Two important words: I’m sorry. They fix a multitude of things and convey so much more than the root meaning can imply. It can heal wounds and rebuild trust. It’s not a matter of feeling bad or admitting wrongdoing, it’s acknowledging that you have hurt or upset the other person, right or wrong. It’s acknowledging that you value the person more than what’s stepping in the way of your relationship or friendship.

It’s sadly underutilized. I think many times, people thing that they only have to say they are sorry when they are wrong. That’s not how it works though. I have had many times where I’ve been right about something, but either my delivery or response has hurt the other person, so I come forward with an apology. When we yell at someone we shouldn’t, we just assume that they other person will understand that it’s out of our character and there’s an implied “sorry”. That’s not enough though. You have to actually say the words or the issue stays unresolved and festers.

There’s a certain power behind those words that, using other words just doesn’t seem to cut. There’s an almost cop out feel behind the “I shouldn’t have said it that way” or “you know I would never intentionally…” that has always left me feeling like the other person doesn’t really mean it.

There’s also a certain power about saying those words to someone. You feel a weight has been lifted when you utter the words – no matter what the situation.

I think people need to be more humble and mindful of this.

8. Unconditional

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This is in reference to my blog entry http://goshthisdivorce.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/sit-wait-contemplate/.

When you hear the word unconditional, many times it’s associated with love. Unconditional love is a very difficult thing to actually practice in a relationship. For those of you that are parents, like myself, maybe you can understand it better when you talk about the love you have for your kids. I unconditionally love my kids. When you see some of the horrible things on TV about kids and the actions some with clear mental illness have taken (example: the school shootings) my heart immediately turns not only toward the families and the victims, but also to the families of the perpetrator. I can only imagine how much it hurts for them to feel completely angry and still love their child that has done such a horrible thing. That is unconditional love. Not necessarily agreeing with them and all they’ve done, but loving them still in spite of it. Not loving their actions, but loving the person. I imagine how hard it must be to unconditionally support their loved one (in cases where the child taking the bad actions has not committed suicide and are being tried in court) how difficult it must be to unconditionally support your child while completely disagreeing with the actions they took and the crimes they committed. That is unconditional.

I have to be honest here, I’m not sure I can have quite that level of unconditional feelings for someone aside from my children – I really want to think I’m capable, but I haven’t found it in me yet. Sometimes, I think it’s my attempts at unconditional love for others that leads me to be an enabler because I don’t know how to draw the line like I do with my kids.

However, I will say that my unconditional love, support, and unwavering trust can come quite close to that – in the right relationship with the right circumstances. If I said I’d give away unconditional feelings to just anyone, I’d be nuts.

I need someone who can communicate both ways. What I mean by this is that I need someone who can accept that with unconditional love and support, comes my unconditional honesty and I expect that in return. That means if something is on my mind – I’m going to tell you. If something is on your mind – you need to tell me. This sounds easy and great in theory, but is actually quite difficult in practice.

Unconditional feelings grow from unconditional trust. That is an amazing thing, if you can find it. Someone you know you don’t have to question because you know they are always honest, they act with good intentions (even if sometimes it doesn’t turn out that way, they at least have good intentions), and they act with others interests at heart. That’s what I want for my next great love – my lifetime love.

Roller Coaster Communication.

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Roller Coaster Communication

When you ride a really wild roller coaster that takes you upside down and on many twists and turns, the feeling you have when you get off can be quite disorienting.

My relationships with men seem to be a simile of that. My relationship with EX is definitely the roller coaster. I can sort of see the track ahead, but it seems like my view never quite prepares me for what’s around the next wild corner. When I get off of that EX coaster, I’m often left confused, wobbly, and trying very hard to get my bearings. When it’s a particularly rough ride, I’ll avoid the roller coaster at all possible costs – but the impending fear of it is still there, which makes me quite cautious.

I know this can be difficult for The Boyfriend to navigate since, being that we are still in a long distance relationship, he doesn’t ride the ride with me. He just has to deal with the aftermath.

The aftermath after a bad roller coaster ride – let’s just say it’s not pretty, but very much akin to a bad actual roller coaster. The wobbly feeling in your legs, that’s the cautiousness I start to feel and apprehension with The Boyfriend – not because of anything in our own relationship, rather the nervousness of being in a relationship again, knowing how bad it’s turned out with EX. Some people have gotten sick after a particularly rough ride on a roller coaster – in me, that manifests as aggressiveness in my attitude and communication…I vomit words. After having such rough communication spells with EX, I feel the need to make sure that I am communicating EVERYTHING to The Boyfriend, down to the last detail, sometimes beating a dead horse.

The Boyfriend and I, like most men and women, communicate quite differently. I communicate for feedback. He communicates in response. What I mean by this is that when I have a problem, I want to talk to someone about it and I want them to give me their feedback on how to fix the issue or at least compromise and make the issue fade. I’m not looking to be right (although I know The Boyfriend does feel a lot of the time that I am only looking for that, so maybe I need to adjust some of my word choices), I’m looking for understanding and compromise. The Boyfriend only communicates things when he feels he is being asked directly or when he gets his switch flipped and feels like he’s under attack – all of the sudden he gets really aggressive with his communication and hurtful…which results in one of us leaving the room. The feedback I am communicating for is rarely the response I get. I bring up one topic and he responds on 3 very different topics that have been on his mind. We often get nowhere.

The other thing is that I am a “tackle an issue head on” kind of girl and he’s an “avoid conflict at all possible costs” kind of guy. These two personalities work about as well as slamming your head into a wall when it comes to effective communication. After we have a “discussion” (which can often result in a fight because I am too aggressive and he is too passive aggressive) he is left feeling hurt and confused about how things went south so fast and I am left feeling like nothing has been resolved.

The bigger question is – how to fix this. It’s going to take a compromise on both of our sides. I am going to have to tone down my aggressiveness and find a more tactful way to approach some issues (even those that can be hard to approach with tact because they are difficult topics). He is going to have to accept the fact that when he does stuff that upsets me, I am going to tell him about it but it is not to hurt him (or hurt his pride – which is more what it seems like). It’s actually quite the opposite; it’s because I care enough not to let issues get in the way of my feelings for him. If I didn’t bring up how I felt about certain actions or how certain things made me feel, I’d just continue harboring those bad feelings – which would lead to the end of the relationship. So when I discuss things with him that have been issues in my other relationships (particularly with EX) and have caused issues – like emotional infidelity, physical issues, and relationships with porn, it’s not to root out and chastise those topics, rather tell him how those things ruined a prior relationship and how I don’t want to let them enter any relationship I’m in ever again.

I have hangups. I have big, emotional holes that have been left by my 16 year relationship with EX that quite frankly, I’m scrambling to find the fix for even though I know it will come in due time. For some of those holes, until I can figure out how to repair them or be guided to do so, I need a patch. Sometimes, the patches I need may seem off the wall – but it’s what I need to hold it together until I can be healed.

Healing is quite a difficult process when your EX lives just a few, small town blocks away and deals with anxiety/bipolar issues. Just when I think I’ve safely completed the ride and can unbuckle the restraints – he’s been throwing curves at me. While I try to take this in stride and feel like, after being apart for almost 3.5 years, I should be used to it – I still can’t seem to wrap my head around it.

7. Equal

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This is in reference to my blog entry http://goshthisdivorce.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/sit-wait-contemplate/.

Why is it that strong women have the tendency to intimidate men? This has been a HUGE issue of mine when dating. It seems like such a contrast of what they all say they want. Men will tell you they want a self sufficient woman…it’s just they don’t want her to have her own opinion. All too often what that really translates to is they want someone who will pay for themselves (and often for them as well) and will take care of business – all the while, wanting their woman to play the role of the subservient girlfriend. They want their cake and to eat it too.

I can’t be turned on by that mentality. I need to be able to let my strong personality fly with a person that knows how to duck when it comes too close. I need to be able to feel independent and codependent at the same time. I need a man that understands what that means.

I want a guy that brings as much strength to the table as I do. The rest of the stuff doesn’t matter. Our jobs may not be equal, our personal responsibilities may not be equal, but our inner strength has got to be. They have to see the stuff that both of us bring to the table and never feel like they bring less.

6. Honesty Without Cruelty.

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This is in reference to my blog entry http://goshthisdivorce.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/sit-wait-contemplate/.

When I think of honesty, my brain goes in so many directions it almost feels impossible to pick a way. So, I won’t.

The first thing I think of, when it comes to honesty, is myself. I do a great deal of things wrong, but I don’t feel like honesty is one of them. I am the absolute worst liar ever. When you add in the fact that I have ADD and can’t always remember specifics and details – I’ve just found it easier not to lie. I don’t mean just the whoppers either. In general, I don’t do the white lies either. If you don’t make up a story, you don’t have to worry about remembering it – and I would never remember it. It seems like such a great quality to have, in my mind…but I’m often criticized for it. It’s often held against me. I’ve been told that I’m “too honest” not because I’m not tactful, rather sometimes people don’t want to hear the truth. I just can’t seem to sugar coat things though – that’s not a skill I possess. Honesty with tact is a difficult thing to be – because sometimes, as the saying goes, you can’t sugar coat a turd. If someone hurts me, I’m honest about it without being cruel – it’s just at times people have seemed shocked that I’d actually say something about it. As if hurting me wasn’t painful enough, they feel the need to get upset because I called them on it. Here’s an idea – don’t hurt people and you won’t have that mirror held to your face and be told how you made the other person feel.

While I understand it’s not a quality everyone wants (genuine honesty…so if they don’t want it, I’m definitely not the right person for them) I want that same quality I see in myself, in my future mate. I need someone who can give me a reality check without breaking me down. I need constructive criticism to continue to grow and I need it from someone I totally trust and feel safe with.