Finding peace

Its been quite awhile since my last blog. I can gratefully blame my absence on my new job, my relationship with Keith and day-to-day life. As time is moving forward, things are coming together. Time has changed to move forward: the days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and I am excited to say that I am able to take my super long beach walks again. (Its time to battle off those 6 pounds gained this winter!) On those days where the turf beckons, I put in place my ear buds, hit the button for slacker radio on my cell phone, and trudge through the sand finding myself lost in the salt air and the sounds of the waves hitting the shore. It’s during those beach walks that life philosophy rushes through my mind. It is easy for my mind to stray and become consumed in any random thoughts of its chosing.My beaten walking path.

During my walk yesterday, it dawned on me, in just over 30 days I will be divorced. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost one year ago since that fateful day that my marriage ended. My mind began to return to memories that I would have rather forgotten at a certain point in my life: but ones that I am now at ease with and can gladly allow myself to return to from time to time. The randomness of my own internal conversation is one that I will not share with you, for fear that I might prove myself as crazy, but the topic is one that has lingered in my thoughts throughout the weekend.

I allowed my mind to roam over the 11 years that C. and I were married. For probably the 100th time since last April, I dotted from the first night we met, to the first few years filled with happiness, the years that I forced myself to believe it was acceptable to be unhappy because I was married, and the heartbreak of the last few years of our marriage as I watched it crumble out of my control. For the 101th time, I wondered why it took so long for freedom to find me and how I ever rationalized and convinced myself it was ok to be sad and lonely. For some reason I cannot explain, I began to think about an old co-worker. We had both been hired with the same company on the same day in 2005. We went through a lot of training together and we eventually came to know each other pretty well. He was an unattractive, ill-mannered, honorary sort of person, that made you wonder if there was ever anything in life that made him smile. His outlook was always pessimistic, his sarcasm flowed to the point of annoyance and his wife was exactly like him. They would go on vacations to exotic places and he would bring in photos filled with them on the beach, on cruises, at nice restaurants. etc. Not one of those pictures ever included a smile, hand holding, or their arms around each other. My manager and I would rudely talk about their relationship behind his back. The company moved him to our sister site ,just 15 miles down the road from us and the office rejoiced in knowing that his negativity and bad attitude were gone. For him, he welcomed the move. The place was a satellite office, he was the only person on staff and he welcomed not having to be around people. He and his wife shared the same mentality, they had no friends, partook in no social activities and lived in their own miserable isolation. Fate intervened, unfortunately, during St. Patty’s day weekend in 2008 when his wife died of a massive heart attack in her sleep. He was devastated. His world collapsed and many of us wondered if he would survive. As the months moved forward, we all took turns taking him out to lunch, bringing meals to his home, inviting him to social activities. At first, he refused our offers and appeared doomed to a life of isolation. As time moved forward, not only would you find his door open when you visited his home but we all began to notice his heart open as well. He began sharing his life story with us: from his mother dying when he was a very young age, to his father dying a year before his wife and his brother-in-law committing suicide just a few short months after his wife passed. He shared meeting his wife in NY at a very young age, not one of us ever knew that she was 15 years older than him. When they met, she was settled into her teaching career and he was just a lad not quite sure what he wanted to do with life. His wife convinced him to move in with her, she enrolled him into college without his permission or consent and slowly began to take control of his life. I have to assume, loosing his mother at such a young age, conjured up feelings of inadequacy in his heart and meeting an older woman, willing to take him in, guide him down the path of life and share her maternal instincts with him was very appealing at his young age. He was 17 and she was 32 when they married. At one point in his life, he had been happy, vibrant and full of life: he shared old photo albums with us and I almost fell out of my chair at the pictures of him smiling and having a good time. As we all became closer to him, we began to edge him on to go out to dinner, we put together on online dating profile for him, we convinced him to sell his fathers house and when he was ready, we all drove to his home and helped him box his wifes belongings. Over the last two years of my employment with our company, he became a very close friend of mine and my ex husbands. It was amazing to watch him transform into a man who I never imagined possible. As the years of our friendship moved forward, he shared stories of he and his wife’s life together, and we all began to realize just how controlling of a woman she had been. In the early years of their marriage, she had layed the groundwork for how they would lead their life, and she gave him the option of an early out if it was a life he did not feel he wanted. She did not like parties, church, festivals, basically any activity that involved having to be around people. She would work, pay half of the bills, clean and cook and in return, she expected him to work, pay half the bills and remain faithful. I was shocked to know, the last 10 years of their marriage, they slept in separate rooms. They were married 30+ years when she died.

In the beginning, I watched him mourn. He flowed through the patterns like clock work. He lost weight, he cried at the drop of a hat, he felt sorry for himself, he hated going home, he would not move anything in the house: for the first year after her death, he refused to sleep in the bed, he would sleep on the couch where she died. He carried photos of her in his pocket, in his car, on his desk; photos that had not been there before her death. It broke my heart to watch him in those first stages, he genuinely was devastated. That first Christmas, we literally yanked him by his ear, tied him into the backseat of the car and forced him into a Christmas social at the local Catholic Church. That night, I saw a spark ignite. It was wonderful to watch him excitedly begin to relish in a new life he had never known. He became a whole new man. He began to date, his social calendar was NEVER empty. Heck, sometimes we would go a month and not hear from him, only to find he had been on vacation for a week in Bermuda, met a woman there and brought her back to the States. Eventually, he began to date a woman who had no traits or comparisons to his deceased wife. She was vivacious, full of life, laughed all the time and feel head over heels in love with him. They became engaged, he sold his house and the last time I talked to him, they were living in Virginia near her son and he was enjoying being called Granddad. (he never had children)

I began to wonder why his heart led him to lead a life of isolation for so many years, denying himself the life he longed for. What made him be accepting of existing and spending his days brimming with unhappiness and negativity? Why would you spend over ten years of your marriage, never touching each other, sleeping in separate rooms? Did he ever long for laughter, a soft touch from his wife, a tender hug or that look of passion that you share with someone who knows your soul? How many days did he spend, convincing himself it was ok and acceptable , just because he had found a life of daily routine and a comfort that he was afraid of losing? It took almost two years to convince him to break that comfort zone, but once he did, you cannot imagine the differences in him.

I look at the differences in myself since a year ago. I remember the loneliness, emptiness and just plain sadness that I carried in my heart for years. I remember feeling unloved when my husband would berate me, I remember feeling unworthy when he would aggressively insult me and I remember wondering what I had to do to make him love me. I changed everything about myself for him and he still never loved me like I needed him to. I changed my friends, my beliefs, my appearance, my daily activities, etc. By the time I realized the err of my ways, there was a comfort in the sadness. I could depend on being lonely, I was not let down anymore at the rejection it had become my crutch. I convinced myself because he did not physically hit me, cheat on me, do drugs or drink to excess that I would be a fool to leave. Because he could present himself in the public as such an upstanding person, he had a great job, and we could afford things I could never have on my own, I bowed my head and accepted my life. I accepted my fate and I learned to live with all of it.

As I was returning home, ironically, I passed a gentleman walking his dog that carried many resemblances to my old co-worker. I came in the condo, logged onto my Facebook and searched his name. As I was scrolling through hundreds of profiles looking for a familiar face, there he was. His face stretched in a “possum eating” grin, happiness radiated through the computer. His arms wrapped tightly around his new wife, hers around him and they looked happy.

I have no regrets. My life has led me to a great place of peace and I may not be here if I could go back in time and change anything. I am a work in progress but I have pride in myself. I know who I am and the things I want and I am willing to work hard and honestly to get them. I have made mistakes, I have made bad choices, but bottom line, I forgive myself. I have to. I am loveable, deserving and human and I will accept no more than what makes me happy.

I , by no means, am comparing myself to someone who has lost a loved on in death. Instead, I have revisited too many times the death of my marriage. I have mourned, I have cried, I have carried guilt and anger. Now its my time for happiness. I forgive myself and I open my heart to the many wonders of the world that I have yet to experience. In honor of my friend, whose radiance I envy, I trust myself enough to carry me through my future. I can do this!

Pride vs. neccessity

 

“Pride is a personal commitent. It is an attitude which separates excellence from mediocrity.”

 
There comes times in all of our lives that we are forced to ignore our initial instincts and allow survival mode to guide through a trying time. My survival mode kicked in immediately after my ex locked us out of our home. I knew, as a newly single mother, I had to make everything right for my daughter, regardless of what it took.

After I was terminated from my place with the company R. and I were employed with, I was terrified. I cannot explain to you just how terrified. In less than two weeks, I had left my home, my marriage, and was now awaking to a new life, in a 6 week rented condo, with no hopes of an income in the future.

We all are aware of the present economy and unemployment statistics and many of us know that a new job is not landed overnight. With that said, I had no choice but to hit the streets, putting in applications at the local restaurants for waitressing positions. The timing of my separation and unemployment could not have been better, tourism season kicks in just before memorial day, so the popular restaurants begin to up their staffing numbers around May. I cannot complain, I was employed within the first week: but my morale was low and I could not find happiness in being a 39-year-old waitress. At the age of 31, I had put myself through college and worked hard to earn the degree that was now taking up space on my living room wall. I had been in my current career field for 8 years: it was a field of nobility, notoriety and stature: here I was, now tying on my black apron and carrying around my order book every day, with embarrassment and shame. (don’t misunderstand that analogy, I do not carry disdain for anyone that works as a bartender or server: for me, it was a huge step down from the suits and heels and five figure income I was used to) ID_no1_6722

In my current state of mind, I think the shock and numbness of the trauma I had suffered was enough to distract me from the harshness of reality and that was probably a good thing. It wasn’t until the end of July, when the distraction began to wear off, that I realized how extreme my situation had become. I was surrounded by everything that I had never agreed with. My co workers were young, average 20’s, enjoying a lifestyle full of drugs, alcohol and, the majority of them, welfare fraud. They all came from varying backgrounds but shared the same mentality for life: if you can’t drink it, smoke it or have sex with it. it’s not worth your time. I isolated myself from them, by not allowing myself much interaction kept me safe and far away from the drama that surrounded their daily work environment. Eventually, my quietness became an appellant for them and the drama was carrying over into my life.

Just before I quit my job at the first restaurant, there was a situation involving a 22-year-old waitress that I never did like. In mid July a close friend of mine was coming for a week’s visit. In casual conversation with this chick, I mentioned my friend would be in town soon and I planned on getting some much needed “Girl” time. I saw no harm in releasing that information, if I participated in a conversation randomly, I was able to camouflage myself more easily. A few days later, I’m not sure if it was nerves or a stomach bug, I called in sick. I had been up all night hugging the toilet and there was no way I was making it in that day. The next day, I returned to work and was confronted by the head waitress. She explained that the 22 year old had heard my call when I let them know I was sick and had spent the day telling everyone she could find that I was not sick, but hung over. She said I had bragged a few days before about hitting the town with my company and getting “crunk”.  I still have no freaking idea what she meant by “Crunk” so that is definitely NOT a term in my vocabulary and I explained that to the head waitress. I had a doctor’s note in my pocket book, I left my supervisor standing on the second story, I marched myself downstairs, found my doctor’s note, walked straight up to the 22 year old, put it in her face, and let her know, the next time she had something to say, to get her facts straight. You should have seen the looks on her 20 year old friends faces….it was a priceless moment, regardless, in that moment, I knew I could not carry on that daily process anymore. My friend did arrive the next week for her stay and over the course of the week she could sense my distress in my employment situation. It was only a week later when I submitted my resignation and quit. It was a tough decision to make, there was still 6 good weeks left in the tourist season, which meant a great income for another month, but ultimately, my morals and pride took over and I simply could not put myself in that situation anymore.

It was the middle of July when I began seriously submitting resumes to anyone and everyone. I applied for every professional position you can think of: administrative, accounting, law enforcement, health care. It was my goal to not have to wait tables in more and return to being proud of myself and my career. ultimately, it wasn’t in the cards at that period in my life and I reluctantly began to send applications to restaurants again. It was in August that I was hired with the second restaurant.

I carried high hopes walking into that job. It was a higher scale restaurant than the previous bar I worked in, the client’s was one of a professional nature and my co workers were older and more mature. At first, I felt content and accepting of where life had led me. There was not much drama associated with my employers and I felt comfortable in my environment. I still carried the hope of returning to professional setting and carried on with submitting resumes to potential employers, but I did not feel the desperation that I had before. At least I never felt that desperation, until mid October, when the owner of the second restaurant returned to run the establishment.

She was in her 50’s: she and her “Boyfriend” had purchased the restaurant together 16 years ago and through the rumor mill, I knew she had a history of alcohol abuse. Currently, her 32-year-old daughter had been helping the boyfriend run the establishment. John was a laid back man, quiet and easy to get along with. He oversaw the kitchen part of everything. He was essentially in the kitchen with his crew all the time and he allowed Michelle to run the restaurant and patron part of everything. Michelle’s mom, Carla, had been in the hospital since July with pancreatic failure and kidney issues. For the first few weeks of my employment, they had not expected her to survive, but here she was, in the middle of October returning to work and man, was she hell on wheels. An alcoholic for over 30 years, you can only imagine how unhappy she was at being told by her doctors to never drink again. She was vile, pessimistic and she created much more drama than you would ever expect from a 50 year old woman. Within two weeks of her return, 4 of our staff quit, which left only myself, Michelle, the bartender and the kitchen crew. Her focus became making my life hell. She would cut my hours, send my home without warning and more than a few times, I caught her pocketing my tip money. I was frustrated, angry and everything felt hopeless. For months I had sent out resumes and my friends had asked everyone they knew, with no responses. After my daughter moved in with her Dad, I even began sending resumes to job openings in cities hours away. At that point, if it was in my destiny to move to a new town, then so be it.

All seemed hopeless. December came, my mentality was at its lowest. My daughter had been out of my home for a few weeks, my heartbreak was still fresh and though time was moving forward, I was still feeling “lost”. I made the decision to take a months break on the job hunt, I could not take the stress anymore. I had spent hours upon days upon months browsing the internet – Craigslist, indeed.com, LinkedIn, meetup, etc. to no avail. I was done, simply put. I reached a point where I decided to hang my head low, keep my mouth shut and do my job. Every fiber of my brain wanted more than anything to drive to work and tell Ms. alcoholic bi-polar bosslady to shove it where the sun didn’t shine, but I was at no point financially to do that. I simply had to accept what was my present fate. Then, everything changed.

It was a cold rainy day in December. I had driven to my girlfriends house to sit in front of the fire-place, sip some white zifandel and forget the world for a bit. We were having a heated discussing over the Home Networks “flip it” when my cell phone rang. It was a number I did not recognize and I almost did not answer it. Something in my belly twitched and my heart fluttered so I answered the call. It was a local law enforcement agency phoning about a position open with our county as a tele communicator. In mid August, I had forwarded my résumé to them, at the same time, their HR Department was transferred from their old office across town into a new office, and here it was December, and they were just now finding my résumé. They offered me an interview for two days later that I EAGERLY accepted. I could not believe my luck! I was ecstatic. Two days passed, I entered the interview with confidence and nailed it. They phoned the beginning of the next week and offered me the job. I did not hesitate to accept, I did not care if they saw how excited and happy I was, for once EVERYTHING FELT RIGHT!

It was week before Christmas, my new job set to start mid January, when I reported to work and informed my boss of my new job. I offered to stay with the restaurant until New Years, but when I informed my boss fbba8ff3-6896-4d3f-8eb0-e9ad9ff5d34dI would not be working New Years Eve, she not so nicely told me that was a deal breaker. Then began the rant of innuendos and insults that I had endured for the two months since she had returned. I quietly put on my jacket, grabbed my purse, and walked out the door.  I have no regrets about that.My Grandmother raised me to treat others as you wish to be treated, but sometimes, after you have taken more punishment than you deserve, you reach a point where you just don’t care. The necessity for the job was not there anymore, my pride took over. I was no longer in a position to be treaded on, mistreated and used. I walked out the door of that restaurant with an unfriendly, go (bleep) yourself, gave myself my Christmas in GA with my son, welcomed in 2013 in a calm, settled environment and allowed myself to know, this year was going to bring changes. I walked into the new year, hopeful for a renewed peace and content in my life, I have earned it!

A new day, a new blog

In the recent weeks, I have been exposed to several significant changes in my life that have led me to a new starting point. A new starting point that feels like the right place to be. The best way I can describe the last nine months of my life to you, where you can partially understand it, would be to have you envision a runner. This runner has trained days, months and years to compete in the marathon of their dreams. There are little marathons along the way the runner participates, getting their feet wet enough to make sure they have what it takes to compete in the real deal. The day approaches for the said marathon competition, the runner arrives, excited, with their heart racing and a courage within their soul like they have never felt before. After all, this is what they have waited and worked so hard for. They register at the gate, receive their number, trot over to the sidelines to stretch and warm their muscles. They call for the line up, the ribbon is cut and the marathon begins. The runner works tirelessly, rounds the last curve and can see the finish line at the end. Their heart is again racing, they can feel victory in their reach, only to be surprised as they cross the finish line to see the other marathoner jumping on bicycles and heading off for the second course of the TRIATHALON. You see, where the runner thought they were so well ready and trained,  their attention to details was distracted by the excitement of the marathon. They failed to notice this race was much more than they were prepared for. So is my life!

I have deleted my earlier posts and rants for honestly, an extreme want to not be embarrassed by one more single person reading any of those. There are many days behind me and (what I hope) many, many more in front of me, it is in looking forward that I will gain insight and grow, not in looking back.

Welcome to my new world.

A few days ago, I was reading a magazine that included an article on getting stuck in the “drift”. The article asked, of the last three big decisions in your life, how many were made by yourself? How many were made by outside factors? My answer to the question, all three were made by outside factors. evidentially, my answer was incorrect, and the article proceeded to instruct me to swim my way out of the drift (a rut), take control of my life, make my own decisions, and get the hell off of my ass. So, that is what I did. My first decision was a large, complicated and extremely emotional one. I packed my daughters belongings and sent her to live the last six months of her senior year with her father.

My daughter is eighteen years old, and though she is not close to being a “bad” kid, she has a lot of mental and emotional challenges that I simply cannot handle on my own. She has always been a drama queen, loner, and not very focused on anything in life. I guess my daughter could be called a drifter. Looking back over the years, I wonder even if it would have been better for her if I had made this decision years ago. My sons were not around much during her teenage years and my ex husband and I spent so much time focused on our careers that she was home alone more than she should have been. I tried everything I could to encourage her and support her into extracurricular activities, though nothing ever seemed to capture her attention. She played soccer, volleyball, ran track, was a cheerleader, played the clarinet in band, etc. She enroll into a new program with enthusiasm only to lose the want in less than weeks and beg to quit. I never let her quit, my children were raised “If you begin something, you finish it” bred in their blood. This not allowing her to quit rule, led to endless arguments and many days of depression for her. As the years progressed, she learned, if she never enrolled in anything, she never had to try or worry about having to complete the task. Eventually, she began to turn into someone, that many times, I was not very fond of. She seemed to not be able to get any meaningful relationships, male or female. Her personality could conform at a drop of a hat, just to “fit” with the person in her presence. Some days I still wonder if she knows if any one thing that SHE likes, without the influence of others. Over time, rose-colored glasses seemingly became permanently attached to her eyes. that, or a love swooned dreamer took the place of what was once my daughter. In the last few years, she cannot seem to get enough attention and I am referring to male attention. It does not matter what age, race, height, eye color, if you flirt with her, she is yours. It hasn’t been just the last few months since my separation, but a normal routine for a while now, to meet a random stranger on Facebook and send her personal information to them. I would not want to know how many times strangers have been in my neighborhood or passed by our drive looking for my daughter. She also seems to have a continual problem with lying. She lies about everything. A few months ago, these issues combined, were close to pushing me over the edge.

Selfishly, it was much more than I wanted or could handle in my life. I was struggling with the loss of two loves in my life, the loss of my career and the new-found freedom of being the only income into a three party household. My son was preparing to leave for the US Air Force and my main focus was on maintaining a small bit of stability in my children’s lives until God led me to a path that would pull us through the emotional warfare waged in my heart. It took everything I had to throw the covers off of my body and force my feet onto the floor every morning. During this process, my daughter found a way to take advantage of me, given my mental state at that time. She began to break the rules more and more, she was increasingly lazy (if that is possible) and refused to take part in anything that involved helping me in any way. At the end of the summer, my nerves were shot and I was the closest to an emotional collapse that I have ever been. I made the decision to send her to her fathers for a few weeks, we both needed space. I had yelled, cursed, talked rationally, treated her with respect, begged, bartered, etc. Nothing was getting her attention. embarrassingly and with much guilt, I have to say, those two and half weeks of any empty home gave me the peace to find my boot strings and pull myself back up into the rat race. With a better perception of life and rested mind, she returned in late August to finish her senior year of high school.

It wasn’t long after that return, that things also returned to normal between she and I. The lack of communication and respect between us has simply been mounting ever since. The straw that broke the camels back came a few weeks ago. I was actually checking the school calendar so my ex husband and I could discuss when my daughter would be at what home during the Thanksgiving break. It was then that I noticed report cards had been issued three days before. I logged the computer off and spent over an hour searching her room to find nothing. This was a Friday afternoon, I decided to not mention the report card to her, track her activities over the weekend and approach her with the new-found info if she had not handed it over by Tuesday. The weekend passed, she snuck out of the home Friday and Saturday night, spent her time sleeping or laying on the couch watching love movies and did not complete any of the chores list I had given her. Tuesday came, long story short, no report card had been given to me, I approached her, she claimed it was in her room , two hours later, she claimed to not be able to find it. I inquired about why it had been a week since the report was issued and it still had not been given to me to which she claimed to only be failing one of four classes. Lies! The report card was found in her school locker the next day and she was failing three of four classes. At wit’s end, I phoned her father in tears and after a few hours of conversation, I made the decision for her to move to his home.

I came home, informed her of her future, gave her a timeframe for everything to be packed, and I watched last Friday as my two sons drove down, loaded my youngest sons truck with her belongings, and pulled out of the parking lot.

The three days that she has been gone have been bittersweet. On the bitter side, I feel I have failed my daughter and failed as a Mother. All of my life, all I have ever dreamed of is being a mom, a good role model for my kids and the type of Grandmother whose home is always filled with the scent of cookies, warmth and laughter. I keep thinking there had to be more that I could have done. Am I giving up to easy? Am I being selfish and hurting my child in the process? On the bittersweet mid-line, I have spent 22 years raising a family, tending to kids, a husband and a home. Suddenly, I have none of the above. On the sweet side, I feel this is the first day of the rest of my life. I am held back by no obligations, no commitments, no responsibilities. If I want to pack my bags, sell everything I own and backpack across the country, there is no one to tell me I cannot. Now to take the bitter, the bittersweet and the sweet, and find a way to combine them into a new path, a new destiny.

To return to my visual description of my life, The runner walked away from the triathlon feeling a failure.  they were so sure they were ready for the race, there was nothing but disappointment and shame running through their veins as they made their way back home. Days pass, more marathons will be researched. The runners heart has not given up the want, the dream or the hope: it’s just a matter of researching all the options, paying attention to the small details and training with dedication and diligence and with time, the correct marathon will come around, and all of their hard work will pay off.

I have faith!

You can make life what you want it to be through belief in yourself:

What is meant to be will always find a way:

It is better to be hated for who you are than to be loved for someone you are not:

Don’t let what others think decide who you are.

Be bold and courageous, when you look back on your life, you will regret the things you didn’t do more than the things that you did do.

What appears to be the end, is really a new begining.

CN