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.

Advertisements

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

 

Cheesy Journals, Poetic Wanna-Be: It’s all in the Writing

The desire to write wanes from time to time, my heart and head do not understand each other and I find I am without many words in which to express myself. 

Then of course, the space in between the words, all at once blank and I find I’m searching for what I thought about two, three weeks ago. How was I feeling then? What kept me from writing? 

During the last month or so, writing has not been my solitude, rather, reading my past journals has.  Well, solitude isn’t exactly the right word for this exercise – more like painful, embarrassing silence. You ever read that cheap little journal you once had back in 9th grade? Try reading it. Chances are, you’ll slither under your current karma as I have. 

Threads, Patterns

Big chunks of time and I couldn’t find enough lines in my journal to write on. My marriage, wow, such insight, more denial, little behavioral changes. I wanted to change – no, not necessarily change. I wanted to love and devote myself to my husband so deeply, the similar pattern was evident most of our years married. My feelings, philosophy of marriage, the paradox of how I was living my life. I was determined to make life work the way I thought it was supposed to work.

Other big chunks of time, I couldn’t muster the energy to write. Blank pages at the end of 2002…..why??? Where was I then? What happened in the next chapter of my story? Those pages stare at me, I can no longer fill in the blanks, as time has moved a record speed and I am forced to deal with the here and now. 

There are a few more journals left to peruse. Staggering in one sense, the signs of depression more clear than I recall, joyful in another; my children, always the light of my life, even when babies, the crying, teething, the tantrums and school days: the thread of love for them continues evolving to this day. I am grateful to have written with the happiness I felt. It was all real. It still is. 

Mostly though, I now have this, right here, a new voice, a new place, my own place of discovery. Years from now, I’ll look back, read as I’ve read from past journals, slither a time or two at my cheesy expressions, poetic wanna-be language and Hallmark quips. That is absolutely cool with me. For if not me writing about me, my life, who then?

Get over yourself, C. Just keep writing. And so it goes…..

The Identity of Me

It has come to this: 

Unhappy in my marriage, longing for acceptance, hungry for a nurturing kind of love, I made choices that were not healthy for me. I rebelled. I chose to rebel in the form of affairs. Of course rebellion was latent – fits perfectly in my own personal timeline, always a bit off course. This, however, has proven to be more a blessing than a curse for I am living as the person I’m most at peace with. 

Don’t ignore awareness. Don’t ignore your little voice. Pay attention to unhappiness. Pay attention to your own personal development. Pay attention to self-respect. Pay attention to the people who bring you joy.

Not everything in life is neat and tidy, especially when one doesn’t have much of an identity at fifty-plus years. This came to pass during one of my therapy sessions this past April. Beyond my long-term marriage, beyond my chronological years, the discovery of my own identity, finally coming to fruition. I had no idea how lost I was. 

Eight months since, the divorce dust settles and clarity rises, more insight unleashed.

And in the end, I am me. So simple, pure, true. And so painful getting here. That said, much to look forward to. I have learned a new appreciation for human tolerance, the evolution of patience, empowerment of loving. I will come out of my closet here at some point. No longer anonymous, no longer shameful of my past, my hope is to touch others, to share my story, to help those who share similar threads of experience, who may be estranged from their own adult children, who made the decision to step out of their marriages and seek an affair; to understand it takes courage, real balls to leave a long-term marriage on their own terms, their own reasons, regardless of what other people may think. 

The accusers remain, some more prominent than others. I do not need their acceptance or approval nor will I succumb to a world shrouded in shame. Another shift in my personal development. 

I am not the center of the universe. I am a woman who discovered herself. I am a women in love. I am a woman who loves. I am a woman who gives. I am me. 

Perseverance, Baby, Perseverance

About 2 weeks ago I thought my daughter blocked me on Facebook. She and I have remained ‘friends’ throughout our estrangement despite her choice to not contact me. For several hours, each time I tried to look her up I couldn’t locate her. I didn’t see her name on our 65 shared friends’ pages. I became quietly frantic. Then I got mad. And I unfriended her. Like a spoiled child – there, take that. Only not spoiled, simply hurt – the reminder that she and I are not in contact at all, merely the illusion through social media. Hey, I’ll take it. A few days ago, I saw her page. Just like that it appeared on a mutual friends’ page. My heart sunk. Had I not been as impulsive would she and I still be connected on FB? Did she intend to block me on purpose then reboot her page? Ugh. I can’t think this way for it will place me in the land of stagnation. I no longer live there. So yesterday I humbly sent her a friend request. 

Some days patience is like breathing. I feel it settle in my soul; peacefully it enters, scattered throughout my being, it feels as if I shall never feel the anxiety of what happens next in my life. It’s a wonderful feeling, so new. This – I have now experienced. This – I know happens. This – can change without precedence. 

Perseverance comes when inner peace is rattled. It is then I am uncertain when I shall feel patient once again. During this time, I feel stronger for moving forward, not remaining where I am today. The fact that any change happens is good in my Book of Perseverance. I’ve learned that perseverance is only a gateway to the future. One must persevere in order to experience patience. 

Though I have gotten through one of the most painful episodes regarding the estrangement over 3 weeks ago, mentally much healthier since, my body feels ragged and torn. Fighting a cold, perhaps, the Advil helps, though I can’t help but think body and mind are always intertwined. Two lovely women I know are sick. They may be very sick as they wait for test results. In the midst of my estrangement, I feel a new strength building within me. I bought these beautiful ladies each a coloring book. Silly, yet they color the world with their beautiful spirits. The pain I am enduring leads me to help others. I want to be strong in ways not yet discovered.

I may not get my friend request anytime soon. This does not diminish my love nor my patience moving forward, wondering what, when, if, how, my girls come back into my life. To persevere means pressing on despite obstacles. I am pressing on. Bring on more Advil please.

Anger Dissolves; Love Abides

Love overcomes anger and hurt. But it’s not a given, it must be practiced.

That’s not some cheesy Hallmark sonnet, it’s how I feel, what I experienced.

After a rather rough weekend and earlier part of my week, I end on a high note called love.

Yeah, I know what I wrote about anger. Planning on writing about anger, somehow, within moments, love hit, it’s message enveloped, embraced my heart and I suddenly I am stronger. This strength, it is changing: more confident in my ability to cope, faith more imbedded.

That sweet old feline who passed away a week ago has helped my healing process. In doing so, I reached out to my girl – the devastation of losing her kitty, in that moment, all energy on her; HER pain, HER loss, HER sadness. The emails brief, I told her by remaining silent about this loss, so significant, is equivalent to not caring for my kiddo. She thanked me in response, the feelings of grief in full swing.

I shall back away for awhile now. She knows where I am. More than that, I took the step and revealed a bit of who I am now. That’s enough. Thus far, no other response, just silence. I am hopeful.

Time will help her breathe more freely, attain more peace. In time she will be OK. How does one know for sure? I’m her mom. I know my kid.

Transition in Feline Form

Death, its meaning, questions raised, the symbolic dance of it reverberates throughout my heart, mind, soul. 

Upon the death of my Mom, awareness of life quickly rose.  All that was within me, heightened, propelled me to think more clearly, look at myself and take action. I began questioning what mattered, what my true beliefs, values and purpose was.

Ok, maybe because I’m in my fifties now. Maybe because I’m that much closer to the senior menu at Coco’s or Denny’s. Maybe because I’m now divorced, a freer thinker, allowing myself to be. Whatever IT is, something stirs inside of me and there is a new shift taking place….again. 

My cat died this week. Well, she was my daughter’s cat, though again, whatever, I loved the shit out of that sweet old girl. She was 16 years old. 

IMG_1393

I write about her, as her death has changed me.  Just as with Mom, the cat represented love.  And like Mom, the cat is gone from this Earth, though the love continues through me. I can feel it. What transpired upon the cat’s death is what has caused me to take pause. I am listening once again.

To grieve a death, one must never be alone. It came to light, through my dear girlfriend, that upon the death of my mother, neither of my girls were there for me. Her celebration, six months after she died, a most glorious day for me, full of love, joy, loss and pain, that day brought me to another level in life, the beginning of what true legacy means. I have honored that legacy ever since.

The girls had come to know of their parents’ divorce only a month after the death of their Nana. They too, so close to the magnificence of who she was; we were all devastated by her death.  During this time, the estrangement was new. By June of 2012, all communication was gone. I had endured 2 graduations; one daughter from college, the other, high school. No photos taken with their Mom (their choice).  I rose above that, kept my public tears at bay and stood with grace during those joyful yet painful events. Then my Mom’s celebration within days of graduation. At no time did either girl come to me, embrace the loss of such a wonderful woman. At no time did they approach me, make eye contact, none I could see. I stood onstage with my brother, both he and I loving this night, a time to not mourn but to celebrate the wonder of Mom. How I longed to embrace my daughters that night. To let them know how much their Nana loved them, how much I loved them. My older daughter sang, like an angel, the purity of her voice so beautiful. My youngest, her humor interjected, balanced with poignancy, so expressive in sharing what her Nana meant to her. And yet all the while, no solace between the three of us.

At that time, I was unprepared to cope. I was coping, yet my strength had yet to emerge. Looking back, as my friend reminded me this past week, where were the kids when you were grieving your mom? I had not thought of this, never crossed my mind, in fact.

My cat’s death brings forth new feelings. If not for my ex, his email, phone call, I would not have known of her death. I do not see the as heroism on his part. He is far too pragmatic; our relationship far to emotionally disconnected for heroism to me. He simply does the right thing. For that, I am grateful. But I digress.

I will write more soon. I am coming to a new understanding of myself. I am coming to a new understanding of the estrangement, all it entails. New feelings are arising and I’m listening with more abandonment. It’s loud, becoming more pronounced.  I’m dealing with it head on.  I believe it’s called anger. 

Exhausted yet inspired by LOVE

The exhaustion comes from holding back. To love freely is to LIVE. To live is to freely LOVE. 

In the experience of estrangement, I now realize fear is exhausted. I’m not sure if or how much afraid I am of rejection anymore. I say this, right here, right now, knowing that if my kids were to again reject a phone call, letter, text, my heart would sink as it has many times before. I want to break free from this exhaustion. I want to inspire my girls as they inspire me from afar.

I’m just as uncertain if the pain shall continue as piercing. I want to call my daughter. I want to pick up my damn phone and make an actual phone call. What if she doesn’t pick up? What kind of message shall I leave? How careful should my words be? What if I completely fuck up any other chance of reunification by calling her? Why do I feel I need permission to call? Why am I still so scared?

Time and time again….this is not about ME. It’s about them. And again, I concentrate on me, my feelings. That’s my problem. To be fair with thyself, much of what I’m afraid of is making their life worse. They are on a path of healthiness. As am I. At the same time, here I am, now following them on Instagram, images of them, their lives, only a short distance from where I sit. There is something deep inside of me which longs to reach them. To let them know that no matter what, I AM HERE. FOR THEM. Whatever they’re going through, I will ALWAYS BE HERE. NOTHING diminishes my love for them. NOTHING. I love them FREELY. It is the way I choose to live. It is who I am.