One Year and Two Days Later

Wow. I see it’s been a year and two days since I last posted here. Soooo many words to share, so few blogs in which to say. After the process of putting myself in an angst mode for too long, asking questions such as, should I start a new blog on divorce, should I add posts to my public blog (Though I do take a more philosophic view on real estate, I think not) I finally came to the conclusion – begin here, again. This is where my story began, here’s where it shall continue. The angst is not so much what to write, it’s where to share.

When I began this writing journey, going public was never on the horizon. No way. Like I would be THAT brave, honest or stupid? Yet, here I am, years later post-divorce, healing quite well and it comes to this: I want to share myself, as I may help others. One goes through the pain, feels is like nothing else, finally allowing its dissipation, leaving space for joy to reenter, allowing a healthy spirit willing and able to touch others and let others touch them. The shame of divorce and estrangement is lifting and I’m ready to carry forth what I’ve learned.

About going public? I’m closer. I may save several of my earlier posts for later. They are raw, honest and an important part of my journey. They are also extremely intimate and personal. I care about my children and do not wish to harm them further. Estrangement is a huge part of the story and still is. It is a complex and complicated subject. Though it is also one of the least talked about issues in our culture, if not others.

Thanks for re-joining me. I’m glad to be back. 

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Gotta Love Insight

There’s a warmth in the air around me, as if transition is happening once again. It feels radiant and clear. 

Celebrating my mom’s birthday this week has somehow released more fear, sadness and anxiety; replaced with renewed hope, peace and an extra dose of gratitude. I seriously believe I would not be where I am today if mom hadn’t died over 2 years ago. And it wasn’t until this week I feel her with me. Sincerely feel her embrace me. People kept telling me “she’s right there with you” but there was nothing. I talked to her yet couldn’t feel her presence. This new awakening has made me pause, reflect and become lighter.

Let’s face it, most of this journal is dismal at best. I write as I feel and at the beginning of my journey here, there was a women in such pain with herself, she decided to express some of her disconnect in words. Unfortunately, that pain was also directed in completely unhealthy ways as well. Once I was so determined to accept my unhealthy behavior of looking to other guys for validation when all along, it’s always been about me. Only me. Not my father, mother, ex-husband, children, long-term friends, family or any one man can make me feel I’m worthy and a good person. I was willing to accept that I could not change, that this part of me was truly broken. I believed I was broken. In many ways I was. I accept that. Though I was not broken, I was sick. I was depressed. I didn’t know how much deeper that depression would get, had no idea the extent of pain of what was to come.

Today, if I start sounding a little more like a Hallmark card, perhaps I’ll understand why. Pain is as real as breathing, yet so is joy. I have lived both in tandem and separately. Let there be more beauty to express, the yin to my yang, the joy to my sorrow, the sometimes cheesy platitudes to my over analytical mind and blubbering heart. I’m still here, in my journal. This is my story. I am alive.

 

Acceptance

The evolution continues, changes move within; slowly, at times with caution, that fine line between safety and protection, the other, new courage I feel to speak the truth about my current life.

Several short months from now it will be two years since I’ve been in the same room with either one of my adult daughters. Texting here and there on occasion, emails sporadic, the reaching out to connect… an email from my oldest last fall- her deeply anguished angry plea that I stay away, no more contact – to this past January, my younger daughter, her own separate anguished plea to please let her go, no more gifts, offerings or any sort of contact.

I am clueless. Both have told me so. I am a psychopath. Both have told me so. I am not well, I am a sick individual. I am a mom by blood only. They no longer know me or wish to know me as I am today. They have said their respective goodbyes.

Time for Acceptance

It is important to remember – to acknowledge their feelings. It is important to accept those feelings and move on. Closer now to acceptance, grieving feels different from before though its outcome very much still unknown. I can not change how my daughters feel. They see and feel what they see and feel. I have set them free to feel safe.

I am no longer clueless. Perhaps I say this a lot more than I realize but it’s important I continue recognizing this.  I am well on my way – a strong woman who has come to full-on grips of who she was, is now and who she is becoming. As I learn I share. No two experiences are exactly alike though there are similar threads of humanity. Falling into the dark hole, once as prevalent as each breath taken, now subside as I better understand the triggers I must watch out for.  A trigger can be as simple as a popular song on the radio or more complex like observing my friends’ beautiful relationship with their adult children. What I hope to do more than ever is to never see anyone go through the pain and anguish I have endured, as has my entire family.  Sacrificing my children due to the way my divorce played out is the last thing I would’ve ever expected. There are consequences to actions. Each decision breeds an outcome, some desired, some not so much. No longer do I feel the need to explain my actions for I’m at the point of forgiving myself and have learned the true nature of what self-compassion contains. Only for my girls do I need to express my remorse. If and when that day comes, I will be ready.

I will say this: unhappy marriages begin with unhappy selves. Contemplate deep within yourself before looking at the imperfections of your life-partner. Gaze into your own first. It will hurt like hell, pain you probably never quite felt before. Yet by doing so, you will have saved yourself  – your personhood – before completely drowning.  There is so much goodness in you. Look to that as well. You will begin to embrace and celebrate new-found insight and self-growth. You will begin to give back more openly, without shame or trepidation. Fear is real. You will combat it. It’s not easy but you can face it. Please don’t look to others first for validation. It’s useless energy and easily distracts from knowing the core of who you are. 

Wishing you peace as life’s journey moves onward….thanks for your continued reading, dear viewer.

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Impassioned By Divorce

Please be kind to yourself: don’t wish away your divorce. Don’t wish away the ugliness, uncertainty or pretend it’s a dream. Once the process begins, so does the time-clock of you: the person you are today is unlikely the person you’ll see tomorrow.

I remember the beginning of my divorce like it was an hour ago. Shortly after making the decision, my girlfriend sat down with me, her very first question posed: “Are you absolutely, assuredly positive you want to divorce? Is there a shred of hope for reconciliation? If there’s even a minute shred of possibility, concentrate on that one shred. Make sure this is what you truly want.”

Unless one abruptly leaves a marriage with no warning for the left spouse, it usually take two to decide. And sometimes, one wants the divorce while the other does not. Sometimes both are equal in their decision. Most all of the time, no one can be 100% certain they’re making the right decision no matter how certain it feels at that moment. You will waiver. You will question yourself and the decision a zillion times.

A year since my divorce, my friend’s question holds new clarity. The questions did not seem particularly meaningful at the time. How meaningful could they resonate when I had barely begun this incredible life-changing phenomenon called “dissolution”? I now understand exactly why she asked as she did: once the journey into uncharted territory of divorce begins, life will never be the same as one’s known before.

Impassioned by divorce, so many lessons learned, more to come. Helps to write. Makes it more tangible, real. Allow yourself the time necessary to let go of what you thought your life would be. Embrace the fear and use its motivational pull as a guide to take you to the next step.

Eventually the fear will dissipate. Anger will rise and so shall you. Anger breeds inner strength, the beginning of self-forgiveness. All encompasses the desire to come out the other side a better person than today. You are on your way. Keep going. Breathe. Love. Live.

The Stranger: Part Two – Familiarity of Self, of Love

Towards the end of the marriage, husband and wife became strangers to each other. How can this be when for so long we were the best of friends? As I dismantle the numerous knots, new insights emerge – at times, repeating myself, only because I am beginning to cope and live through the aftermath post-divorce. I like this feeling. It feels liberating, at the cusp of more empowerment I desire and need moving forward. All of these feelings, fairly new, learning to sit with them, allowing myself to simply feel.

At the same time, it is Christmas Day. Many sweet memories of our Christmases together, husband and wife as well as la familia. Time moves on, those memories etched in sync within balance of my new-found joy today. I am grateful for those memories.

The ability to change fascinates me as I learn to connect with myself.

I’ve changed, yet not into a new person – I’m now emerging into the person I’ve always been. Did it take something as monumental as a divorce to do complete this? Why now? Why, post-divorce do I feel more familiar with myself and not during my marriage?

The mind is magnificent.

I believe we are all capable of change. I believe we are all capable of acting upon choices. I believe we must learn to trust ourselves long before we love another. I believe in committed relationships. I believe in self-care, self-responsibility and self-compassion, self-forgiveness.

The more tolerant of others, the less judgmental I become. I do not ask or expect others in my life to uphold my beliefs nor look for their validation as I once did.

How my children will know their mother now, I don’t know. I miss them more than can adequately express. What I do know: I am the most complete I’ve ever felt, yet so much more to come. All the years loving, supporting, caring for my girls – immensely real, genuine, truly who I was – am. The other part which now emerges is simply the discovery to allow myself to be. This part was squelched the last years of my marriage. Not his doing, just mis-matched. I tried so hard to fit…into him. Yet I’ve let go of my gatekeeper to my girls – their dad. Letting go of their dad, healing continues as I don’t need him to reach the girls. This will happen in its own time, its own way. I’m learning I love my girls in ways like no other. A mother’s love is like no other. As I nourish self-love, my love for them feels healthier, more grounded.

On this day, the second Christmas spent without my girls, while they may see me a stranger, my love for them flourishes. I’m learning there is more to life than simply loving. It is in giving, actual LIVING one prevails. It is what I can do – the only thing I can do for my girls right now. As I live more authentically, the person I am, so too – eventually, will they begin to understand my reasons for leaving their dad and not them – no longer a stranger, rather, the loving mother they always knew, only now in her entirety.

The Stranger: Part One

A tidal wave of huge proportions today. Back in therapy after a 3 month hiatus, new ground to cover. Sometimes the depth seems never ending. I find I’m at a good place, only to sink deeper than desired. Yet I feel closer. This is how growth and insight are gained, is it not? I keep wondering what that place of resolution feels like. I have further to go until I know for certain.

I am a complete stranger to my kids. More horrific than that, at one point some time ago, they saw me as a loving mother, wife to their dad. This stranger, me, they are fearful of. I must begin to understand their fear. It won’t take long. There are particular benchmarks that clearly define new insights. Today was one of those.

They have heard things about me, stories, I don’t know. They have images of me, bi-polar, pathological, very sick and distorted views. Perhaps they see me as person who is sexually addicted. They know of my affairs. They know of them, only because I was threatened. And I have accepted my part in all of the bad decisions I made. In order to reach my girls, I must accept the brutal reality that they no longer see me as their mother. I have not accepted that I am a stranger to my kids. Until today.

As I work through therapy this time, the yearning to understand myself heightens as does my resolute. I am not solely responsible for the demise of my marriage. This is not why my girls are angry with me. They understand all marriages have their challenges. I believe they accept that. They are (rightly so) angry that I chose to have affairs. In their minds, their mother, one whom they loved, looked up to, trusted and believed in, ripped apart their lives, irreperably damaged their being. They know very little about the intimate relationship between their parents (nor should they). The see their father as the victim, mom, sick and demented.

Where to go from here?

Therapy continues. I will work on pressing through the shame which I am healing from. There is a great void, a disconnect I feel about my past. Cognitively, I understand my behavior. Emotionally, I am detached. Is this because I can no longer look at the kind of person I was? Have I not endured enough of my own pain in order to feel what the kids feel? How much longer does the estrangement continue without my having a voice, the opportunity to share myself? I now fully recognize where all of their anger stems from – that I betrayed my husband and my family, without a care about the consequences. In essence, there is some truth to this. Making the decision to seek solace and acceptance from another outside of my marriage, I did not think about consequences, period. How could I have been so detached from the two people I love so in this world?

I know my past behavior is just that – past. No longer that same person, each and every decision I make, consequences are considered above anything else. Try as I might, this includes my decisions to reach my children. Now I stand back, further than before. With the help and support from my own therapist as well as my kids’ therapist, I remain steadfast, working through all the pain necessary towards reunification.

Shifting Behaviors

Reflecting on gratitude and what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving Day, there are new questions, ones which I don’t yet have specific answers to but determined to uncover. 

After a three-month hiatus, I’ve decided to commence once again in therapy.  My first session just this past week, turned out to be the toughest session of all. Hello, humility. I think we need more time together.

Feeling stronger doesn’t necessarily mean DONE. It’s these damn expectations; one gains some new insight and should then be able to carry on, practicing new behaviors. WRONG. Takes time and a LOT of mindfulness as well.

Here’s the epiphany I discovered: I still see myself as a victim. I still behave as a victim. Not in the way of recent past. Lots of growth which I recognize. Problem is, still deflecting too much on extenuating circumstances and not enough on myself. How does one take on more self-responsibility without clobbering who they are? What’s most remarkable is seeing myself as a victim happened long before my marriage. And when I met my husband, he was the type of partner I wanted; strong, loyal, honest, intelligent. I, on the other hand; compassionate, warm, loving, kind. Our relationship was based on all the right things. For most of our years together, we were a great team.

What shifts took place? Why did the blending of our individual characteristics, once so easily meshed, dissolve and change? While I’m just at the beginning to understand my role as a victim, something different is happening within me. I am sad about my girls, of course. Losing them has been the most devastating event I’ve experienced in my lifetime. The toughest part of therapy last week was admitting I still look to blame my ex for the estrangement. God, that sucks. I thought I was further along in my journey. I had a rough email exchange with my oldest daughter a week ago. I continue making the same mistakes. Reaching out right now, that’s the first mistake. Second, I am not at the point of compassion I wish to be, wish to feel for her. I am confusing compassion and feeling sorry for myself.  And because my ex is the only true gatekeeper to our girls, I hang on to every text, email and phone conversation I can muster. This must stop, not good for me because I’m still playing the same role with him and not moving along further.

This shift is significant. My second Thanksgiving and second Christmas coming up without seeing my girls. It’s been a year and a half since I’ve been in the same room with either of them.  How could this happen to a mother who clearly adores her children, devoted to motherhood despite unhappiness during the last few years of her marriage? Estrangement only happens to parents who are not loving, who are selfish. Certainly the parents must have done something terribly wrong to have their child cut them out of their lives?

There is always a kernel of truth to why a child decides estrangement. This is my truth. I’m realizing things about myself that were here long ago. As I unravel my past, it already makes sense why I am where I am and how I got here. Helps to breathe a bit easier, knowing I have more to learn and be willing to admit so. I ramble on, finding the words to blend with thoughts, knowing that in time, more will begin making sense.

Two Separate Types of Pain

It is unbearable. The pain in which I feel today hard to describe. Important I do.

There is still a long way to go.
There is still so much to learn.
There is still much to accept.
There is still so much pain.

For those in an affair, I ask you to please think about why you have made the decision to seek solace outside your marriage. The question is not to pass judgement, it is to make one stop and think about why one chooses particular behaviors and decisions in the first place.

Next to think about are your children. For those in an affair, have you thought of how your children would react if they found out? Had I known the true, deeply entrenched pain caused by my decisions and actions, no way in hell would I had made the decisions I made in the past. Why did I NOT think of my kids? I always thought of my kids. Like it or not, truth is, affairs are ALL about thy self. Tough to face. Honesty is a bitch.

There are two separate kinds of pain:

The pain I have caused my children.
The pain in which I felt when married – reasons I sought an affair to begin with.

Again, there is still a long way to go.

Yes, I have grown, learned, gained insight. The pain though, it’s devastating. I now realize that I still feel much of the pain from my marriage, not able to let go of that pain as I need to. I do not place blame on my ex for my infidelity; rather, I haven’t completely let go of the hurt felt by his uncaring nature. And though he did care (I truly believe he did) I needed more compassion than he was able to give.

This, in conjunction with the pain I have caused my children, destroying my entire family is far more devastating than I initially felt. It is no wonder why my kids feel as they do.

Another painful awakening once again, yet necessary to feel….completely genuinely feel and deal with – head-on.

Love Thru Transition

Divorce, death, estrangement, life: welcome to it.

Like a gigantic physical wound, the levels of pain, at one time, excruciatingly intolerable, slowly transitions, the pain, still deeply entrenched though subsides more deliberately over time. I have come to this – my own conclusion: there is no conclusion, there is evolution. All done in our own time, I am beyond grateful for this time.

Aside from the continual Hallmark metaphors reeling in my mind of late (sarcasm IS a big component of me, ya know) love, REAL GENUINE LOVE becomes me. Like a satisfying chunky peanut butter sandwich smothered with apricot preserves, what comfort us is ours and we own those moments.  It’s taken a lifetime (well, MY lifetime of 50+ years thus far) to feel in tune with myself.  It’s also taken tremendous loss, pain, crisis and monumental introspection. There are no short cuts. 

I’ve written my girls, sent days ago, the letters written as authentically as their mom now lives and I am comforted by love. My heart is healing.  Always loving my daughters, the love I feel today, not quite explainable this moment…as I told them – fierce and readily unconditional. It is how my mom loved me. LOVE – always there, never whole, pieces missing, unsettled peacefulness, I now understand the complexities. Motherhood  – THE most empowering kind of love, how could estrangement happen when that love is so fierce? I love my children so much, why would I not protect them from harm and pain of the choices I made? For if loving then as I do, would I have not gone to whatever length to have made better decisions? Make the sound decision to simply divorce their dad in lieu of affairs? Did I not think these decisions would affect their hearts, the core of who they are and wish to become? These questions, so pervasive, harrowing, unanswerable, I choose to let go, for they no longer serve any purpose.  Self-punishment runneth over. It is never too late to learn from mistakes, gain new insight, make necessary changes and  carry on – a better person. 

LOVE – how I wish I wish I had fallen in love with myself as a younger woman, a younger mom. Loving oneself treads deeper than that: it must include a sense of self, the yearning to always learn when to accept who we are, to experience gratitude to evolve. I am on a new path, a renewal to give back, whatever that entails. My heart is open to love others as I love myself.

While I still struggle with feelings of shame, sorrow, loss, the fear of transition dissipates. Feelings of unworthiness, more prevalent than ever recognized before my divorce, I am shedding old cognitive patterns, appreciating the goodness of my true self. It is not narcissistic to love oneself. It is humane.

 

The Evolution of Divorce

The shock and disruption of divorce can not be overstated. It is like death with life attached; the navigation is a free-for-all, there are no immediate bearings to hold on to.  The aftermath of my divorce, the experience resonates within and I am in awe I am in my own skin. Divorce does not define who I am – rather, who I am defines divorce – my divorce. Each is different. I am but one of many divorced middle-aged women seeking new understanding, moving forward, living life with new perspectives. The fact I am estranged from my daughters adds another layer, a separate component I’m learning to cope with.

Without my divorce, who would I be? The same woman, fearful of speaking up, afraid to voice her convictions? Who knew she had a voice worth actually using? Approaching the first anniversary of my divorce, I’m no longer this woman. I am my true self. I remember feeling so repressed, not sexually or even emotionally. Repression came in the form of fear. Marriage contributed to that fear, though its imprint was made years previous to a marital agreement. I had no idea the level, the depth and scope of this fear. One learns to compensate, adjust, deny, ignore. Divorce awakens the soul.

I believe I’ve FINALLY figured out my definition of what being a free spirit means.  I’ve always been a free spirit.  As my former husband and I grew older, that free spirit dissolved. I remember times when I would express myself, have fun, my uninhibited laughter; at which my ex would see this behavior as childish and irresponsible. I would then retreat, question my behavior: “Am I irresponsible? Having fun, is that childish?” It wasn’t always this way. It grew slowly. Easy to miss. When does something like this happen? Why did I not see this in myself? Yet I did see. I just wasn’t paying attention. Divorce awakens the mind. 

Despite the pain endured from the estrangement I’ve rediscovered the joys of having fun, to laugh more freely, allow myself to feel alive and not bad about feeling alive. Divorce awakens new-found freedoms. 

Hope all are finding their own peace. xx